Policymakers and Planners
How Policy Translates to Action in Fair Housing
The Fair Housing Council of Oregon (FHCO) works closely with government planners and policymakers statewide to help jurisdictions at the state, county, city, and regional levels carry out their fair housing responsibilities under a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).
What Is Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
AFFH was part of the Fair Housing Act when it passed in 1968 and has been further clarified by HUD in subsequent rules. It requires entities who receive federal funds to use a fair housing lens in viewing all their activities — including zoning, land use, code enforcement, and sustainability planning — with an eye toward ensuring none have a negative impact on protected classes, diversity, and inclusion, while also eliminating existing patterns of housing discrimination.
More specifically, it means taking steps to:
- Address significant disparities in access to community assets;
- Overcome segregated living patterns and support and promote integrated communities;
- End racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty; and
- Foster and maintain compliance with civil rights and fair housing law.
Providing Renters and Homebuyers a Fair Housing Choice
Individuals and families should have the information, options, and protection they need to live where they choose without unlawful discrimination and other barriers related to protected class. It encompasses:
- Actual choice: The existence of realistic housing options;
- Protected choice: Housing that can be accessed without discrimination; and
- Enabled choice: The availability and realistic access to sufficient information regarding options so that any choice is informed.
Watch Fair Housing Council of Oregon’s Video – Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
The Overlap Between Fair Housing and Subsidized Housing in Policymaking
In most communities, people who need subsidized housing are commonly the same people whose access to housing choice is protected under fair housing law. For example, a greater share of people of color (race, national origin, and ethnicity) may need subsidized housing than other populations; thus, the rejection of subsidized housing would have a disparate impact on people of color.
The reasons for this are complex and have deep historical roots related to decades of discriminatory practices that impacted the life opportunities of people of color and other groups, as well as contemporary patterns and institutional practices that have a disparate impact. We can assist elected officials to understand these patterns and practices and create policies to counteract them.
Jurisdictions Play an Important Role in Advocating for Fair Housing
State and local governments are expected to take an active role to educate community members of their fair housing rights and responsibilities. Their role includes sponsoring training for housing providers, housing consumers, and advocates, as well as providing fair housing information at appropriate locations.
Helping Government Planners Fulfill Their Responsibilities
FHCO works with agencies, boards, commissions, and councils to identify fair housing barriers in their community and integrate fair housing strategies into every step of the decision-making process.
We offer AFFH classes for jurisdictional staff and elected officials statewide and provide one-on-one technical assistance to planners, community development specialists, code enforcement professionals, housing authorities, and other staff members.