In 2015 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a revised legal requirement that federal agencies and federal grantees further the purpose of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act aims to protect buyers and renters from seller or landlord discrimination.
This obligation to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) has been a requirement of the Fair Housing Act since 1968. The 2015 revision requires cities and public housing authorities that receive federal funding including the city of Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Housing Authority (HHA) to reexamine housing patterns and determine bias in these patterns.
The City of Harrisburg and HHA are required under the Fair Housing Act to take meaningful actions to combat discrimination that overcomes patterns of segregation and fosters inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics. According to the ACT, “affirmatively furthering fair housing means taking meaningful actions that, taken together, address significant disparities in housing needs and in access to opportunity, replacing segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns, transforming racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity, and fostering and maintaining compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws. The duty to affirmatively further fair housing extends to all of a program participant’s activities and programs relating to housing and urban development.”
For purposes of the rule, meaningful actions “means significant actions that are designed and can be reasonably expected to achieve a material positive change that affirmatively furthers fair housing by, for example, increasing fair housing choice or decreasing disparities in access to opportunity.”
In response to the AFFH rule, the City of Harrisburg and HHA are collaborating to produce a joint Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) Plan. The Plan will be designed to provide meaningful goals and strategies that can be reasonably expected to achieve a material positive change in disparities in housing needs and in access to opportunity; replacing segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns; transforming racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity; and fostering and maintaining compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws. To help the City and HHA develop informed goals and strategies to affirmatively further fair housing, HUD has made public maps and data available online here.
How Can I Contribute?
The AFH process includes soliciting the opinions of people throughout the City, as well as those involved in the housing industry, including renters and homeowners. The City and HHA have developed a survey and will hold Community Meetings to solicit feedback regarding its AFH plan.
The survey was developed to allow resident and stakeholders the opportunity to provide opinions and experiences regarding housing and other neighborhood issues – schools, jobs, transportation, services and more. All surveys must be received by the City no later than August 31, 2017. Surveys can be found in English here or in Spanish here. Paper copies can be found at:
- HELP Ministries – 413 S 19th St, Harrisburg, PA 17104
- Harrisburg Fair Housing Council – 2100 N 6th St, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Please check back for updated information on community participation and stakeholder meeting dates and times.
Please contact Romulus Brown at [email protected] or 717-255-6402 for further assistance.