AFFH Research

Steil, J. & Kelly, N., Submitted. The Fairest of Them All: Analyzing Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Compliance.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requires municipalities to formulate new plans to address obstacles to fair housing and disparitie in access to opportunity. Although the rule provides a more rigorous structure for plan compliance than previously, as a form of meta-regulation, it still gives substantial flexibility to localities. Are municipalities creating more robust fair housing plans under the new rule, and what types of municipalities are creating more rigorous
goals?

Analyzing the plans filed thus far, we find that municipalities propose significantly more robust goals under the new rule than they did previously. Local capacity is positively correlated with goals containing measurable objectives or new policies. Measures of local motivation are positively associated with goals that enhance household mobility or propose place-based investments.

Read the full working paper here.

Steil, J. & Kelly, N., Submitted. Survival of the Fairest.

In 2015, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, arguably the most significant federal effort in a generation to address place-based disparities in access to opportunity. In 2018, HUD effectively suspended the Rule, it said in part because of the large share of municipal plans that failed to meet the requirements of the Rule and because of the resources HUD said it was expending to enforce it. In this article, we present the first analysis of the fair housing plans that HUD refused to accept, examining how municipalities failed to comply with the rule, what those failures imply about advancing fair housing, and the extent to which HUD’s enforcement strategy was working before it suspended the fair housing rule. Our analysis shows that HUD engaged in detailed reviews of municipalities’ AFHs and provided constructive feedback to municipalities whose plans were incomplete. The most common issue municipalities struggled with was setting realistic goals that would actually advance fair housing and creating measurable metrics and milestones to gauge progress. Several municipalities also neglected to conduct thorough regional analyses. Both of these shortcomings reflect broader challenges municipalities face in advancing fair housing, of identifying effective strategies that meaningfully address interconnected causes of disparities in access to opportunity and in building regional support to address those causes. The AFFH Rule has the potential to make progress on both fronts, and indeed municipalities whose plans HUD initially rejected went on to produce improved fair housing plans as a result of HUD’s feedback.

Read the full draft here.

Gourevitch, R., Greene, S. & Pendall, R., 2018. Place and Opportunity: Using Federal Fair Housing Data to Examine Opportunity across US Regions and Populations, Urban Institute.

Growing evidence demonstrates that where you live affects your well-being and ability to thrive (Chetty et al. 2018; Turner and Gourevitch 2017). This brief highlights new connections between place and access to opportunity across regions and populations. We analyze data on neighborhood-level exposure to opportunity that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) originally released in 2015 to help local communities reduce segregation and comply with the Fair Housing Act. We find that, on average, metropolitan regions are more opportunity rich than rural areas but have wider disparities in access to opportunity between different racial and ethnic groups. Metropolitan areas with higher levels of segregation also have wider racial and ethnic disparities in labor market engagement, high-performing schools, and toxin-free environments. Not only do these findings provide further insights into the relationship between place and opportunity, but they highlight the importance of examining opportunity through a multidimensional set of indices, rather than one composite opportunity measure.

Full report via the Urban Institute here.

Gourevitch, R., Greene, S. & Pendall, R., 2018. Place and Opportunity: Using Federal Fair Housing Data to Examine Opportunity across US Regions and Populations, Urban Institute.

Growing evidence demonstrates that where you live affects your well-being and ability to thrive (Chetty et al. 2018; Turner and Gourevitch 2017). This brief highlights new connections between place and access to opportunity across regions and populations. We analyze data on neighborhood-level exposure to opportunity that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) originally released in 2015 to help local communities reduce segregation and comply with the Fair Housing Act. We find that, on average, metropolitan regions are more opportunity rich than rural areas but have wider disparities in access to opportunity between different racial and ethnic groups. Metropolitan areas with higher levels of segregation also have wider racial and ethnic disparities in labor market engagement, high-performing schools, and toxin-free environments. Not only do these findings provide further insights into the relationship between place and opportunity, but they highlight the importance of examining opportunity through a multidimensional set of indices, rather than one composite opportunity measure.

Full report via the Urban Institute here.

Hendey, L. & Cohen, M., 2017. Using Data to Assess Fair Housing and Improve Access to Opportunity, Urban Institute.

Community organizations working to increase access to opportunity and support fair housing can use secondary data to improve their own program planning, enhance their ability to advocate for policy change, and gain a better understanding of neighborhood conditions. The guide describes types of data and how to think strategically about using data. The guide contains details on data sources related to demographics and segregation, housing, land use, disability, education, employment, environment, health, and public safety. As many of these topics overlap with HUD’s Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), included is a crosswalk of the topics in the guide to the AFH template.

Full report from the Urban Institute here.

Greene, S., Turner, M. & Gourevitch, R., 2017. Racial Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Disparities, Urban Institute.

Where people live matters for their long-term social and economic success. A typical white person lives in a neighborhood that is 75 percent white and 8 percent African American, while a typical African American person lives in a neighborhood that is only 35 percent white and 45 percent African American. What’s more, we continue to see people of color overrepresented in high-poverty census tracts. In the United States, a low-income African American person is more than three times more likely to live in a neighborhood with a poverty rate of 40 percent or more than a white person is, and a low-income Latino person is more than twice as likely to live in such a neighborhood. These statistics show that racial residential segregation and racialized concentrated poverty persist today.

Racially segregated neighborhoods did not come about naturally. They are the physical manifestation of plans, policies, and practices that have systematically denied equal opportunity to minority populations. The policies and practices of racial exclusion described in this paper were primarily directed at African Americans but laid the foundation for patterns of segregation among other racial and ethnic groups. Recent research suggest that we are seeing declining segregation across racial and ethnic groups, although African Americans remain more highly segregated than any other racial or ethnic group in the US. This synthesis will outline various factors that have contributed to, and continue to reinforce, this pattern of racial segregation in US metropolitan areas.

Full report from the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty from the Urban Institue, here.

Steil, J. & Kelly, N., 2017. Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: HUD Suspends AFFH Rule that was Delivering Meaningful Civil Rights Process. Poverty & Race, 26(4).

After years of sustained pressure from civil rights advocates and support from across the housing and community development field, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in July of 2015 at last issued the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule. On January 5, 2018, however, HUD abruptly announced that no new Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs) would be required until October of 2020, and AFHs in progress would not be reviewed. In justification of the suspension, HUD claimed that cities need more time to comply. A research analysis that we conducted prior to the suspension, however, suggests that the AFFH Rule was working. Even though some municipalities submitted weak proposals, HUD correctly refused to accept those plans until they were revised, and the majority of submissions were a significant improvement over the prior Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (AI) regime.

Read the full article from Poverty & Race here.