A HUD Exchange email arriving at 4:34 pm on Friday, May 18 announced that HUD would be publishing three separate notices in the Federal Register indefinitely suspending implementation of the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and removing its Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) tool for local governments.
The first, short draft notice stated that HUD would be withdrawing the January 5, 2018 Federal Register notice that extended the deadline to 2024 or 2025 for an estimated 856 local governments to submit an AFH. At first glance, the notice might have been interpreted to mean that HUD was reversing course and would implement the AFFH rule. The other two notices make it clear, however, that HUD is in fact reinforcing its resistance to AFFH by indefinitely suspending implementation of the AFFH rule.
The second draft notice is much more substantive than the first. As it claimed in the January 5 notice, HUD asserts that there are “significant deficiencies in the [AFH assessment] Tool impeding completion of meaningful assessments by program participants. HUD therefore is withdrawing the Local Government Assessment Tool because it is inadequate to accomplish its purpose of guiding program participants to produce meaningful AFHs.”
In order to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), over the course of several years the assessment tool went through two public review and comment opportunities, each offering 60-day and 30-day public comment opportunities. HUD acknowledges this thorough process but claims the PRA applies only to information-collection approvals – not withdrawals. Hence, HUD is immediately withdrawing the assessment tool and, by extension, implementation of the AFFH rule for all but 32 jurisdictions, without public comment.