Panel Paper: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Data and Measurement for Evidence-Based Community Assessments

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Wright (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Claudia D. Solari and Carissa Climaco, Abt Associates, Inc.

The Fair Housing Act, as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, required the protection of disadvantaged groups against housing discrimination and the furthering of fair housing by reducing housing and neighborhood segregation and improving housing access. Although HUD grantees have been obligated by law to reduce barriers to fair housing since 1968, in July of 2015 HUD took steps towards actively enforcing the Fair Housing Act. Through their Final Rule, HUD published clear guidelines to their grantees to generate an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) and supplied nationally-available data to facilitate an evidence-based assessment. HUD offered these data, compiled from a number of different sources, to grantees through the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Data and Mapping Tool (AFFH-T). The Tool allows a grantee to navigate and process local jurisdiction and region-based data and to view the data in an interactive map environment and through a series of data tables. HUD also prioritized making the Tool datasets available as public use files that grantees, policy researchers, and academics could use for further study and analysis.

In creating the specifications for the AFFH-T, the data needed to reflect measures of vulnerable populations protected under the Fair Housing Act and to provide housing and neighborhood characteristics. Examples of the breadth of data represented in the Tool include demographics (race, disability type, language proficiency, national origin), opportunity indices (access to quality schools and transportation, level of segregation), housing information (households with cost burdens and physical housing problems, the stock of Low-income Housing Tax Credit developments, the share of occupied housing units), and socioeconomic information (neighborhood poverty and racial/ethnic concentrations). The data also needed to be represented over time to show trends and trajectories and to offer evidence for measurable change in future fair housing assessments. HUD prioritized representing data at the lowest level of geography possible to help local grantees identify where they needed to target efforts to reduce barriers to housing access. While the Tool provided national data for grantees throughout the country to use in their fair housing assessments, the use of local data sources was strongly encouraged.

The authors worked directly with HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) to compile the data used for the AFFH-T. This paper details HUD’s priorities and considerations for the data used for AFH, the types of measures used, decisions about units of measurement and levels of geography, how measures were operationalized, decisions about the data sources used, and the formats in which to make data electronically and publicly available.