September 29, 2016
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On September 28, HUD published for public comment an updated version of its proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Assessment Tool for States and an accompanying Federal Register notice. NCSHA is currently evaluating the state assessment tool and will submit comments by HUD’s October 28 deadline. HFAs should provide feedback to NCSHA’s Jennifer Schwartz by Friday, October 14 to inform NCSHA’s comments.

The notice says that based on the extensive comments HUD received after it released the first proposed state assessment tool last March, HUD has decided to extend the comment process by adding a second 30-day comment period to provide further opportunity for the public to provide feedback to HUD. Publication of the notice starts the first 30-day comment period for the assessment tool, after which HUD will consider comments and then release an updated version of the assessment tool and provide a second 30-day comment period.

When HUD publishes the updated assessment tool for the second 30-day comment period, it will also publish a “beta” version of the state AFFH Data and Mapping Tool (which HUD is calling AFFH-T). HUD will require states to use the AFFH-T in developing their Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH). The second 30-day comment period will provide an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the AFFH-T’s usability and functionality and the interaction between the assessment tool and the AFFH-T. Only after this extended comment process will HUD publish a final state assessment tool and AFFH-T. HUD says it will not requires states to undertake the AFH until after it publishes the final assessment tool, notice, and AFFH-T.

During a September 26 session on AFFH at NCSHA’s Annual Conference, George Williams, HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Legislative Initiatives, and Outreach in the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said that HUD would like to collaborate with NCSHA by conducting a pilot demonstration of the state AFFH-T. This pilot is a good opportunity for NCSHA and its members to work to ensure that the data HUD uses for the AFFH-T will be current and robust enough to give states the information they will need to complete their AFHs. It will also allow states to assess, and if necessary improve, the functionality of the data and mapping tool.

NCSHA raised many concerns about the data and mapping tool in its comments on the initial proposed state AFFH assessment tool, which NCSHA submitted to HUD last spring. Williams told the audience during the session that HUD had been persuaded by NCSHA’s comments to conduct the pilot of the AFFH-T and to “look at whether HUD has got it right or not.”

As many as nine states may participate in the pilot. HUD will consult with NCSHA to determine which states will be invited to participate. HUD and NCSHA will try to achieve geographic diversity and ensure representation by both small and large and urban and rural states.

Because HUD will not publish the final state AFFH assessment tool until after it completes the AFFH-T, final publication of the assessment tool may be delayed, which could push back the due date for AFHs for those states with consolidated plans due in 2018.

For more information, contact Jennifer Schwartz.