In what is almost certainly the first step in elimination of the requirement that localities take proactive steps to affirmatively further fair housing, HUD is extending the deadline for submission of assessment of fair housing for Consolidated Plan Participants. This extension was published in the Federal Register on January 5, 2018. It extends the deadline for submission of an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) by local government consolidated plan program participants to their next AFH submission date that falls after October 31, 2020. According to the Notice, while program participants will not be required to submit an AFH, they are still required to continue to comply with existing obligations to affirmatively further fair housing. Local governments that have already submitted an AFH that has been accepted by HUD must continue to execute the goals of that AFH.
The original concept of the Obama era policy was to provide an enforcement mechanism to a federal Civil Rights law requirement that local governments take affirmative steps to undo racial segregation. HUD is now saying that the extension is simply to give communities more time to deal with the complex requirements of the ruling. However, the more likely explanation is that this delay is designed to ultimately kill the regulation and implement the desire of Ben Carson, the HUD Secretary, to do away with “social engineering,” as he called this program before he was appointed HUD Secretary.
Based on this Notice, it is likely that communities that were in the process of complying with the AFH requirements of the prior regulation will simply cease their activities in this area, returning to the status quo of giving localities virtually unfettered ability to decide if and when to pursue desegregation policies. This obviously impacts the provision of affordable housing, since many localities restrict the development of affordable housing to areas that are already impacted by poverty and limited opportunity.