Sneak Preview: HUD Withdraws Local Government Assessment Tool

June 8, 2018 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) After determining that communities using the Local Government Assessment Tool deemed it confusing and difficult to use when developing their required assessment of fair housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in a May 23 Federal Register notice withdrew the tool and will seek public comment on revamping the tool “to provide local governments the best framework to further fair housing choices in their communities.”

On July 16, 2015, HUD issued a final rule that developed a revised planning approach to provide data and tools to assist HUD program participants in meeting their legal obligation under the affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) regulations (24 C.F.R. Part 5). Because there are variations in HUD program participants subject to the AFFH regulations, HUD developed separate assessment tools for use by local governments, public housing agencies (PHAs) and state and insular areas. The Local Government Assessment Tool was issued on Dec. 31, 2015, and was most recently renewed on Jan. 13, 2017. Under the May 23 notice, HUD withdrew only the Local Government Assessment Tool; the others remain in use.

The Local Government Assessment Tool was designed for use by local governments that receive Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships Program grants, Emergency Solutions grants or Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS formula funding when conducting and submitting their fair housing assessments.

After 49 fair housing assessments were submitted by local governments to HUD from October 2016 to December 2017, which comprised the initial round using the Local Government Assessment Tool, HUD officials said that they found convincing evidence that the tool had “significant deficiencies … that made it unduly burdensome” for program participants. HUD found that only 18 (37 percent) of the 49 submissions were acceptable on initial submission, and 17 (35 percent) were returned as unacceptable. Some jurisdictions even incurred extra expenses by hiring consultants to complete their assessments.

“We believe in furthering fair housing choice in our neighborhoods, but we have to help, not hinder, those who have to put our rules into practice,” said HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Anna Maria Farías. “We must make certain that our tools can facilitate the goals we all share to build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”

Many assessments were returned as unacceptable because the local governments did not offer adequate community participation in their development. Local governments told HUD that the questions in the assessment tool were confusing and did not explicitly state the requirements they must follow. For example, while HUD regulations require local governments to make their fair housing assessment plans available for public comment for 30 days, this was not specified in the assessment tool, so one community made a draft version of its assessment available to the public for only three days before submitting the final version to HUD. Other concerns about questions in the tool related to when program participants should use local data and knowledge to supplement HUD-provided data, as well as when program participants should use regional analysis of fair housing issues to develop an acceptable assessment.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

As a reminder, we have all of our Federal Funding Training Forums scheduled for 2018. Please let me know if you have questions or can make any of these. We hope to see you there!

  • Wednesday July 25 – Friday July 27 in MINNEAPOLIS

  • Wednesday October 17 – Friday October 19 in ATLANTA


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