Today, it’s about more than just addressing outright discrimination and access to the housing itself. It’s also about giving every community access to important neighborhood amenities that can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life outcome. I’m talking about good schools, safe streets, jobs, grocery stores, healthcare and a host of other important factors. To help families gain this access – HUD is working to strengthen our stewardship of federal dollars to maximize the impact they have on communities in advancing fair housing goals. As all of you know, HUD’s programs provide funding to partners at the state and local level. As part of the Fair Housing Act—for members of the protected classes—these partners have an obligation to affirmatively further fair housing opportunities – otherwise known as AFFH. But as you and many others, including the Government Accountability Office, have noted, this has proven largely to be a meaningless paper exercise without any teeth. The process has long been broken and we’re determined to fix it and help it reach its full promise. That’s why I am proud to announce that this week we will publish a new rule to bring affirmatively further fair housing into the 21st century. This rule focuses on the traditional tenets of discrimination – and also gets at the essential issues of access to opportunity so imperative to 21st century equity. Specifically, this new rule will: • provide a clear definition of what it means to affirmatively further fair housing; • outline a standard framework with well-defined parameters; and • offer targeted guidance and assistance to help grantees complete this assessment. Perhaps most important—for the first time ever—HUD is providing data for every neighborhood in the nation, detailing what access African American families, and other members of protected classes, have to the community assets I talked about earlier – including jobs, schools and transit. With this data and the improved AFFH process, we can expand access to high opportunity neighborhoods and draw attention to investment possibilities in underserved communities. Make no mistake: this is a big deal. With the HUD budget alone, we are talking about billions of dollars. And as you know, decades ago, these funds were used to support discrimination. Now, they will be used to expand opportunity and bring communities closer to the American Dream.
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