Credit: Payton Chung, Creative Commons. Image cropped and retouched.
The mission of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities by leading the nation in the enforcement, administration, development, and public understanding of federal fair housing policies and laws.
In addition to barring housing discrimination, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, known as the Fair Housing Act, requires HUD and recipients of federal funds from HUD to administer programs and activities relating to housing and urban development to affirmatively further the policies and purposes of the Fair Housing Act, also known as “affirmatively further fair housing” or “AFFH.” The obligation to affirmatively further fair housing requires recipients of HUD funds to take meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics: race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status, and disability.
Specifically, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) means implementing concrete changes that, taken together, address significant disparities in housing needs and in access to opportunity. These actions would replace segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns, transform racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity, and foster and maintain compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.
On July 31, 2021, HUD’s interim final rule to restore certain definitions related to AFFH and certifications incorporating those definitions became effective. Program participants covered by the rule must certify that they will comply with the obligation to AFFH, consistent with the restored definitions. Program participants may voluntarily engage in fair housing planning to support their certifications, and HUD will provide technical assistance and support to assist program participants in carrying out their obligation to AFFH. HUD intends to undertake a separate rulemaking to build upon and further improve the 2015 AFFH rule by instituting a new fair housing planning process and framework to achieve material, positive change that affirmatively furthers fair housing.
Through the Climate Action Plan, FHEO has committed to take actions over the next several years on Climate and Environmental Justice, including:
- Collaborating with the Office of Policy Development and Research and Home Innovation Research Labs to create a series of residential resilience guidelines for homebuilders and developers
- Organizing and expanding online library of resources, trainings, and toolkits for climate resilience and environmental justice
- Generating guidance on best practices for community land use and site planning, including zoning reforms and transit-oriented development, that promote energy efficiency and hazard mitigation
- Assessing practices that advance equitable implementation of disaster recovery resilience funding and generate guidance on best practices.
- Publishing guidance on how to incorporate use of Social Vulnerability Index (SOVI) and similar data into Consolidated Plan development and grantee priority setting