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What is AFFH? Why should you care?
AFFH is "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing".

AFFH is a concept from the 1968 Fair Housing Act which requires recipients of Federal funding to use their resources in ways that create equal access to housing opportunities outside of "traditional" (segregated) communities..
    That means investing in housing that improves integration of protected classes into areas where they are under represented. While originally this meant helping African Americans to move from less segregated areas, AFFH also includes other racial/ethnic minorities (eg. Hispanics, Asians, other...) and persons with disabilities.
    The health, education, and employment benefits of deconcentration of low income and minority households are increasingly well documented. 
    RHINO anticipates that AFFH will be a hot issue for housing advocates, administrators and providers over the last two years of the Obama administration and into the 2016 election cycle.  One has the sense that the Administration wants AFFH to be an Obama legacy program.      Documents, studies and position papers are flowing out of think tanks faster than RHINO can keep up, but we'll try to keep you informed enough to understand and participate in discussions where you live.

Recent policy developments leading towards a new AFFH policy.
Early in the Obama administration, HUD offered a series of incentives to jurisdictions (states and local governments) to promote inclusion and mobility. These programs ncluded programs like Choice Neighborhoods and Sustainable Communities Planning Grants. HUD also created incentives to deconcentrate place-based affordable housing. Now, HUD is taking another step in implementing AFFH by regulation. With the new guidance on AFFH, jurisdictions will be held to account for their efforts towards AFFH.

New AFFH regulations will create controversy all around.
Conservatives have long opposed expansion of affordable housing into previously "closed" communities. Under the AFFH guidance, mobility is a key tool for AFFH. Affordable housing advocates who are seeking to preserve affordable units in low income communities fear that Federal funding will shift towards vouchers and new developments in "opportunity neighborhoods."

Here's the latest

August 18, 2016  Legal Aid of SW Ohio releases new report on affordability and geographic concentration
"Virtually all affordable rental housing in Ohio developed through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program for families has been placed in highly-segregated, high poverty areas in Montgomery County and throughout the State of Ohio; maintaining historic patterns of racial and economic segregation." That's the conclusion of a new report on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which is administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. The report was prepared by Abt Associates, a national research firm with expertise in housing.                                                       
more here
Update: OHFA responds

April 3, 2016  Economic segregation is the wave of the present. 
A new analysis of census data by Brookings Institution shows poverty becoming more concentrated since the Great Recession which ended in 2010. Ohio's cities rank among the highest in economic isolation. 
      These data should challenge Ohio to start addressing concentrated poverty ASAP, but the reality is that all consideration of deconcentration probably on hold til after November elections.
      Ohio Metro's percentage of poor population living in a 
neighborhood with greater than 20% poverty rate
Ohio Metro's in top 100 Metro areas (see below)

10/17/15 NYT Ending the Cycle of Racial Isolation. "Racial discrimination in housing remains pervasive and well entrenched, and governments at all levels bear a heavy share of the blame. Despite paying lip service to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which required states and localities that receive federal money to try to overcome historical patterns of racial isolation, elected officials have often reinforced segregation through a range of policies. Among the most pernicious of these is the practice of building subsidized housing mainly in existing ghettos instead of in areas that offer low- and moderate-income families access to safe neighborhoods, good jobs and schools that allow their children to thrive."

7/8/15 HUD issues new AFFH guidance 

Inclusive Communities get a big win at the Supreme Court    The news of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision on Obamacare overshadowed another big case:  Texas vs. Inclusive Communities.  In supporting the lower court decision in favor of Inclusive Communities (a non profit dedicated to deconcentrating affordable housing), SCOTUS upheld the principle of disparate impact in Fair Housing cases.  
    Disparate Impact analysis looks at a policy or program that seems "NEUTRAL" but causes a discriminatory outcome.  In the Texas case, the state policy of awarding tax credits had the effect of keeping low income housing out of wealthier white communities, thus perpetuating segregation.
    In the news coverage disparate impact is described as meaning that a complainant does not need to show that the impact was "intentional".  This is misleading.  What the court affirmed was that it is not necessary to show that the state of mind of the respondent in order to make a finding of discrimination.  Some "knee jerkers"  are claiming that "innocent" parties will be snagged by unintended consequences.  NOT SO. The burden of proof on the complainant (person bringing the charge) is very high and having a rational non discriminatory purpose could offset a disparate impact claim.  In the majority opinion,  SCOTUS also cautioned against "race conscious" remedies like quotas (another conservative bug-a-boo).
    Only a few of the media reports hit the real mark.  Disparate Impact has been an element of Fair Housing enforcement for many years.  The decision is important because this is the first time it has reached the Supreme court.
    A local disparate impact case was just settled in Medina Ohio where the Justice Department found that a  priority for "residents" at Medina Metro had the effect of discriminating against African Americans because so few AA's were living in Medina County.
    Keep in mind that disparate impact analysis is normally used in cases of SYSTEMIC discrimination where "the system" is rigged against certain classes of tenants.  These cases are often handled differently than an individual denial of housing.  Finally you all know that discrimination is more than race, but includes protections for religion, color, ancestry, female headed households, households with children and households with persons with disability Ohio...military status (active duty and vets). more here and here
2/2015  Supreme Court hears Texas v. Inclusive Communities. 
Disparate impact analysis is at risk.
11/17/2014  Mobility vs. locality development
At Inclusion Partners the last several weeks there's been news about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.  What's the big deal?  Well...if the lameduckers at HUD are serious, AFFH will be a legacy program.  I think they are serious and that they will challenge every grant recipient to "make it so".  Their solution is "mobility:...on the theory that "zip code is destiny"  if this analysis is correct, a mobility only strategy leaves locality developers and affordable housing preservationists out in the cold    But never fear, eventually the pendulum will swing back.
At the same time, look for HUD to be promoting programs which enrich socially/demographically impacted communities
That's right:  policies to promote mobility and programs to enrich locality development.  Got it?
Why is this important to you?  As community practitioners and leaders you are in a position to shape your community's response to the new HUD directives.  more here.

HUD tools for deconcentration
  • RAD
  • 8bb
  • HCV
Benefits of deconcentration
Steps for HUD recipients that could affirmatively further fair housing?