The National Fair Housing Alliance, Texas Appleseed and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service are seeking a court order that would require HUD to immediately restart implementation of the assessment of fair housing requirement. Earlier this year, HUD suspended the deadline for local governments that receive HUD funding to submit an assessment of fair housing (AFH) – an examination of the local housing landscape and patterns of segregation and discrimination that help jurisdictions set their fair housing priorities and goals – until the next AFH submission date, which falls after October 31, 2020. These dates are linked to a jurisdiction’s consolidated planning cycle that outlines the implementation of federal housing funds. The three plaintiffs allege that HUD failed to provide advance notice or opportunity to comment on the change, and failed to articulate any plausible reason for its decision. The complaint also alleges that the suspension of the AFH requirement in January 2018 effectively delayed civil rights oversight of as much as $5.5 billion per year until 2024 or later for almost 1,000 jurisdictions.
This lawsuit comes less than a month after the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Many organizations have supported a balanced approach to fair housing, including the final AFFH rule in 2015 because it made clear that HUD has no preference for one fair housing strategy over another, maintains the ability of communities to pursue housing preservation or community revitalization, and provides new housing in areas of opportunity. Many in the industry remain committed to working with HUD to make continued improvements to the AFH process and to ensure that HUD has the necessary resources to make the AFFH implementation process a meaningful endeavor for communities.