The Potential of the Fair Housing Act’s Affirmative Mandate and HUD’s AFFH Rule

Journal Article by NYU Furman Center
April 2019

Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy   (New York)

NYU Furman Center Faculty Director Katherine O’Regan and NYU Furman Center Distinguished Fellow Ken Zimmerman recently published an article in the journal Cityscape, examining The Potential of the Fair Housing Act’s Affirmative Mandate and HUD’s AFFH Rule. The article reviews the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as well as HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and reflects on the ongoing barriers to fair housing.
This article details:
  • Why the AFFH rule was created
  • The origins and theory behind the new rule and a summary of its details
  • Key critiques of the rule
  • Suggestions on how HUD’s approach can help usher in a new era of equity planning
The authors note that the FHA was passed as Civil Rights legislation in 1968 and maintained that there be fair housing throughout the United States, however, this legislation failed to define “fair housing” and therefore became subject to interpretation. Congress recognized that simply combating future discrimination would not be enough to overcome the history of racialized policy and practices that led to dual housing markets and what the Kerner Commission famously recognized as “two societies”. For this reason, the FHA required the Federal government to take “affirmative” steps to overcome racial discrimination, a requirement now referred to as the AFFH mandate. The authors note that this recognition of structural inequality and racism was visionary.
The authors also state their firm belief in the possibility to build on the AFFH rule and develop an approach to equity planning and fair housing programming. Those views mirror comments the NYU Furman Center submitted arguing that HUD should not ignore the early promise of the new rule.