Begin by downloading SFL’s Strategic Guide. The bold headings below correspond to selected headings in the guide. Check back often as the “EHT Toolkit” is continually updated. Also look for revised Strategic Guides that reflect the government’s latest changes in terminology and methods to further AFFH the many related programs. For example, HUD teamed up with the American Planning Association to create a “Blueprint for Prosperity”, and with the Departments of Education and Transportation to advance “Economic Diversity and Religion Desegregation” in classrooms.
AFFH GENERAL BACKGROUND:
(The following documents provide the government’s legal basis for HUD’s AFFH rule and describe their intent to increase their use of lawsuits against communities.)
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 is generally referred to as the Fair Housing Act. Here you can see the extent of HUD’s actual rights under the Act:
Over the years, there have been many additions to the Fair Housing Act, including additions to the list of “protected classes”. The following HUD document outlines recent changes to the Act:
In 2011, at an NAACP meeting in Orlando, FL, then HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan declared the agency’s intention to pursue legal actions against HUD recipients who failed to comply with the ageny’s requirements. Notice Donovan says the agency is “stepping up housing enforcement.” He later comments on how aggressive HUD will be…”There are no stones we won’t turn. There are no places we won’t go.”
(Note: Before approaching neighbors or officials about HUD’s AFFH, learn about the issues so you will be seen as a credible and reliable source for information. Your success will depend on your accuracy and on the relationships you build.)
Begin your journey to learn about AFFH by watching these two videos. The 5-minute video is designed for easy sharing with friends and public officials.
PVD contains up to the minute changes in HUD and other federal agency activities that effect personal property rights and local rule. This free subscription site links people across the country together to protect communities from federal overreach.
Smith Young of Colorado has created a site that details activities in his Colorado community to stop AFFH.
Here are several articles by author Stanley Kurtz that provide additional background to understand HUD’s AFFH:
Here are some important legal analyses that clarify HUD’s changes under AFFH. They are indispensible tools for learning and sharing.
LEGAL INFO 1. This first gives a thumbnail of the most important parts of the new rule. The title says “proposed,” but the rule was passed as interpreted in the report. The author is the Washington DC civil rights lawfirm of Relman, Dane and Colfax. As you can tell, they are very much in favor of the law. If your community is sued for failure to AFFH, it is firms like this that you will face in court:
LEGAL INFO 2. This short article from Law 360, explains how the new AFFH rule exposes communities to a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit. If a community is sued and loses a FCA suit, they can be forced to pay treble damages. So, if the community accepted $3 million in HUD money in the court challenge, a loss could mean paying back $9 million. It is for this reason that most communites either settle with HUD, or agree to comply before legal action is commenced:
LEGAL INFO 3. An attorney for the lawfirm of Relman, Dane and Colfax explains exactly how HUD enforces AFFH in communities. Notice in the second paragraph of the article, the author exlpains that the new rule will work best where “grassroots and legal advocates mobilize and create their own enforcement strategies.” In other words, to force communities to comply with HUD, local civil rights groups, who are required by law to participate as communities apply for their HUD grants, work together with attorneys to threaten the grant recipients with lawsuits if they fail to AFFH:
Here are two PowerPoint presentations that explain the details of HUD’s AFFH. The first is by HUD:
This next slide show is presented by a lead attorney at Relman, Dane and Colfax for the Fair Housing Council of Oregon. Though some of the statistics refer to Oregon, the presentation applies to all communities accepting HUD grants covered under AFFH. You will notice that the first part of the presentation refers to an older application form and guidebook detailing a community’s obligations when receiving HUD grants. Today’s recipients are still required to comply with all HUD regulations, including the older ones, unless specifically changed by HUD:
(Note: After you have begun building relationships with your public officials, identified a champion, and started a network to share information as described in the “Ending HUD’s Tyranny – Strategic Guide,” you will want to make a presentation to your community’s public officials. You can present this short video in a public meeting, then follow up with a Q&A for your officials.)
The chapter in “Agency Tyranny”, “Stopping AFFH,” details the steps to take to win your community’s legal advisors to your side. Attorneys are a powerful ally in explaining the dangers of accepting grant money under AFFH. When another commissioner warns fellow officials about the legal risks under HUD’s AFFH, it does not carry nearly as much weight as when a legal advisor explains the downsides of a HUD lawsuit. Still, not all attorneys will see the problem immediately. They too can be more interested in obtaining the money for the jurisdiction than in being the one to tell them it should be avoided. Up until the inception of AFFH, the attorney’s role was primarily to help a community apply for the grant money. In many cases attorneys never looked to see if a community should be accepting the money in the first place:
(Note: Some of these document links are repeated from earlier in the toolkit. The purpose is to make them easier to find under each major heading. Each of the documents is seleted to have value and appeal to the legal profession.)
Here is the final AFFH rule and comments as they appear in the Federal Register on July, 2015. It is lengthy, but is important to have with you when meeting attorneys as a reference should they want to see it.
Many attorneys are familiar with Law 360. The article below presents the problem with HUD grants in clear terms from the perspective of another lawyer:
Here again is an attorney’s breakdown of the biggest changes in HUD grant requirements under AFFH:
The commissioners of Douglas County, Colorado had accepted HUD grants for many years in the past. When they heard of AFFH, working with local activists, they studied the application form closely and sent a letter to HUD voicing several concerns. HUD refused to respond to the issues. The county was truly surprised at HUD’s actions and went so far as to ask a Congressional committee to help. It is interesting that Douglas wanted to enter into an agreement with HUD, but the agency refused to acknowledge their pleas. After months of HUD’s failures, the County concluded that HUD was not trustworthy and decided to reject any funds that fall under AFFH. Below is the original letter Douglas sent to HUD outlining their concerns. It is an excellent analysis to share with officals and attorneys:
When Castle Rock, Colorado rejected HUD grants, their sub-recipients or other non-profit organizations were upset that they would not receive their usual money. Castle Rock responded with this letter which is good to share with public officials and attorneys:
Below is HUD’s explanation of AFFH:
Here is the explanation of AFFH for the Fair Housing Council of Oregon:
This document not only presents the final settlement in the Westchester County case that was the basis for HUD’s new aggressive legal actions, it explains the entire details of the case. This may be important for attorneys to read and understand:
Below is the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) tool that replaces HUD’s older Assessment of Impediments (AI) as the application communities must complete to receive specific HUD grants. HUD predicts it will take 200 hours to complete the form. Recipients have claimed it takes substantially more time. You will notice the form mentions comparing your data with that of the “region” numerous times. This is the mechanism that entangles recipient communities into a region with no vote nor even awareness of what is happening. By comparing a community’s planning and zoning with that of the region, the two effectively become linked by virtue of zoning and land use compliance. Since HUD requires that communities move low-income families out of Concentrated Areas of Poverty and into more affluent areas that may be located anywhere in the partner region, as the region and the recipient jurisdiction jointly plan, the grant recipient becomes part of the region. When a non-elected regional council is appointed to run the region, they automatically control the land use and zoning regulations for the local community:
(Note: This section contains common objections some planners and public officials may offer to those who oppose AFFH and the documentation needed to respond.)
Below is an actual response to a County Executive who had many misconceptions about AFFH. He believed that since his county was already in compliance with HUD’s demands, there was no need to be concerned. This is a common argument in communities around the country. This letter addresses each of the Executive’s misunderstandings and especially the flaw in the idea that with compliance comes safety. The letter resulted in the community member speaking before the planning commission:
Local HUD officials who are unfamiliar with all of the ramifications of AFFH may assure local officials they should not be concerned about alarmists’ warnings, since they have been dealing with HUD for years. Public officials must understand that the statements from HUD representatives are non-binding. This decision came down from the Ninth Circuit Court in the Big Meadows’ Grazing case cited below. Scroll down to the highlighted text:
(Note: There is no reason to be on the defensive when helping your community avoid the excessive federal control that accompanies grant funds which fall under the AFFH rule. This section provides several of the disservices HUD does to community members along with the supporting documentation.)
“HUD relocates low-income families, often against their will, by lowering their current voucher payments and raising the voucher payments in those areas where they want them to move.” They accomplish this through a program called, Small Area Fair Market Rents, (SAFMR)The following article explains how this works:
“HUD’s “income mobility” programs are experiments based on limited feedback from a small number of communities with unique characteristics.” HUD likes to quote the success in Montgomery County, MD, but this was an organically driven community established 40 years ago that is in no way comparable to force fitting low-income families into affluent areas. HUD often quotes a 2010 report titled, “Housing Policy is School Policy.” :
“HUD trivializes reports showing the damage federally mandated “income mobility” do to family members over 13 years of age.” Following is the report HUD uses. Scroll down to the highlighted text:
“HUD ignores studies showing that children of better educated parents tends to do better in school, regardless of the affluence of the area.” Internationally, our studnets do not measure up, also regardless of economic background:
“HUD ignores studies showing that children of two parent families tend to perform better in school.” The United States belongs to the group of countries with the largest achievement gaps by family structure:
(Stay tuned for information on HUD’s expansion into health, education, regionalism and urban development. For faster information updates, subscribe to our Property Value Defense newsletter.)
Questions to ask public officials:
How Federal Agencies Can use Smart Cities and ICANN to Control the Social Mechanism
Smart Growth and “Mixed Use”:
Examples of jurisdictions that refuse HUD money:
Senate Bill S103 to stop HUD’s AFFH:
House Bill H482 to stop HUD’s AFFH:
Here is the Congressional Research Service’ explanation of how the Congressional Review Act works: