NAHRO DIRECT NEWS –

 

On September 20, HUD released an updated Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) Tool for Public Housing Agencies (PHA AFH Tool) in the Federal Register. The PHA AFH Tool was modeled on the Local Government AFH Tool with modifications to address the differing authority that PHAs have from local governments. Comments for the current PHA AFH Tool are due October 20, 2016.

HUD previously solicited public comment for a period of 60 days on the PHA AFH Tool released on March 23, 2016. NAHRO submitted lengthy comments on the PHA AFH Tool last spring. HUD’s new version of the PHA AFH Tool contains numerous updates, including a new AFH Tool insert that would be used by Qualified PHAs (QPHAs). This new insert would be used by QPHAs that are collaborating with non-QPHAs.

HUD’s current version of the PHA AFH Tool made numerous changes from the previous iteration.

1.       QPHA Insert – This streamlined insert is to be used by QPHAs that collaborate with non-QPHAs and covers the required analysis of the QPHA’s service area. Previously, QPHAs would have only been able to collaborate with States and Insular Areas. NAHRO is pleased to see this change.

2.       Contributing Factors – HUD added and made small changes to the descriptions of contributing factors.

3.       Disparities in Access to Opportunities – The number of questions has been reduced and references to PHA waiting lists have been removed. NAHRO is pleased to see the number of questions reduced.

4.       Disability and Access – Two additional question have been added to the tool that relate to interaction of PHAs and individuals with disabilities.

5.       Instructions – Various sections of the instructions have been updated to provide clarity.

6.       Fair Housing Analysis of Rental Housing – This section only applies to PHAs that administer a Housing Choice Voucher program and not to PHAs that are Public Housing only. NAHRO is pleased to see this change.

7.       Enhancements for PHAs in the Data and Mapping Tool – Specific maps and dates related to PHAs are planned along with enhancing the functionality of the maps. PHAs and the public should be aware that program participants will not be required to begin conducting their assessments until the full array of online resources, including both the Data and Mapping Tool and the User Interface, are complete and operational for PHAs.

HUD also provided clarity of what a PHA Region should be while completing the PHA AFH Tool. The Notice states that a regional analysis is required for all program participants that extends beyond a PHA’s jurisdiction. For PHAs, the jurisdiction is the service area. Unlike local governments and States, PHAs, including QPHAs, have service areas that range from the size of a town to the boundaries of a State. The region that PHAs will analyze under the AFFH rule thus depends on the service area. For purposes of conducting a regional analysis, HUD identifies the following potential approach regarding geographies as regions for PHAs:

PHA jurisdiction/ service area

PHA region

Within a Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) CBSA.
Outside of a CBSA and Smaller than a County or Statistically Equivalent (e.g.,Parish) County or Statistically Equivalent (e.g., Parish).
Outside of a CBSA and Boundaries Consistent with the County All Contiguous Counties.
State State and Areas that Extend into Another State or Broader Geographic Area.

The Notice states that “PHAs may be limited by their available housing stock, and, in order to afford full consideration of fair housing choice and access to opportunity for residents in the service area.” For PHAs to understand the options for fair housing issues, “PHA must not only assess where other affordable housing is located in the region, but also consider the regional patterns of segregation, racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, disparities in access to opportunity and disproportionate housing needs, by protected class.” HUD is asking the public to provide feedback on this proposed approach.

HUD will provide an online geospatial tool, either in the existing AFFH Data and Mapping Tool (AFFHT) or in a related online web portal that will provide PHAs the ability to select from a variety of geographic units, the one unit or combination of units that most closely fits their service area.

HUD also responded to comments about the previous iteration of the PHA AFH Tool, including comments about the amount of burden the tool will cause to PHAs and the need for additional funding to complete the tool. HUD states that they will continue trying to reduce burden and will provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to assist all program participants. HUD also notes that it has added an insert to the PHA and Local Government Assessment Tools that may be used by QPHAs that are conducting a joint AFH with other non-qualified PHAs and local governments, and that it is committed to creating a separate QPHA tool. HUD is also working to provide PHAs with an electronic submission mechanism to submit assessments. Unfortunately, no additional funding can be provided without Congressional approval.

HUD also responded to concerns that the PHA AFH Tool’s certification requirements create new legal liabilities for PHAs. They respond by noting that the Assessment Tool is a planning document and that failure to achieve a goal set in an AFH does not necessarily mean the program participant has not met its statutory obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.

HUD is currently looking for additional input on how to further reduce the administrative burden on the tool, how to better facilitate collaboration between QPHAs and non-qualified PHAs, and how to improve the structure and content of the questions in the PHA Assessment Tool to yield a more meaningful assessment of fair housing. Comments are due on October 20, 2016.

The Notice can be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2016-22594.

Questions or feedback? Contact Eric Oberdorfer at eoberdorfer@nahro.org.


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