WRO, City of White Plains Awarded HUD Fair Housing Program Funding

Real Estate In-Depth | September 9, 2021

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced earlier this month it had awarded $47.4 million to fair housing organizations across the country under its Fair Housing Initiatives Program. The grants will support the efforts of 120 national and local fair housing organizations working to address violations of the Fair Housing Act and helping to end discrimination in housing.

The grant funding will allow the grantees to provide fair housing enforcement by conducting investigations, testing to identify discrimination in the rental and sales markets, and filing fair housing complaints with HUD. In addition, grantees will carry out education and outreach activities to inform the public, housing providers, and local governments about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.

Among the awardees from New York State included: Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc., which secured $375,000 in Private Enforcement Initiative funding and the City of White Plains, which was granted $125,000 in Education and Outreach Initiative funds.

“The fair housing groups’ HUD funds are a critical piece of combatting housing discrimination,” said Jeanine Worden, HUD’s acting assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “The grants we’re announcing today will enable 120 fair housing groups to combat unfair evictions and other housing practices that violate the Fair Housing Act.”

HUD is awarding grants in the following categories:

Private Enforcement Initiative—$34,556,620 is being awarded to organizations that conduct intake and testing and that investigate and litigate fair housing complaints under the Fair Housing Act.

Education and Outreach Initiative—$10,747,218 is being awarded to organizations that educate the public and housing providers about the Fair Housing Act. These grants will also support state and local organizations that enhance fair housing laws that are substantially equivalent to the Fair Housing Act.

Fair Housing Organizations Initiative—$2,156,183 is being awarded to help build the capacity and effectiveness of non-profit fair housing organizations, particularly organizations that focus on the rights and needs of underserved populations, including rural and immigrant populations.

New HUD Research on Advancing Affordable Housing

On Sept. 8, HUD released its latest research on innovative strategies being pursued by state and local governments to remove regulatory barriers to affordable housing and increase housing supply.

“This research is a testament to the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to increasing and preserving our nation’s affordable housing supply,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “The research makes clear that there is bipartisan support for state and local reform to improve housing affordability, and underscores how the President’s Build Back Better Agenda would strengthen the federal government’s capacity to help jurisdictions meet the housing needs of their residents. HUD and the Administration will remain hard at work to build inclusive, equitable communities through affordable housing.”

The new research, published by HUD’s Office of Policy Development & Research, was promised as part of the Department’s September 1 announcement of a series of actions it is taking as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to create, preserve, and sell nearly 100,000 additional affordable homes for homeowners and renters across the country over the next three years. As stated in that announcement, the lessons from the research “will be incorporated into HUD’s Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse, which contains more than 4,800 barriers and solutions and provides a catalog of information that spans all 50 states and over 460 cities and counties. They will also inform the locally driven zoning reform initiative in the President’s Build Back Better Plan.”

According to this new research, “Opportunities to Increase Housing Production and Preservation,” without significant new supply, cost burdens are likely to increase as current home prices reach all-time highs, with the median home sales price reaching nearly $375,000 in July 2021. The research also makes clear the consequences that inadequate housing supply will have on homeowners and renters. In 2019, more than 37 million renter and owner households spent more than 30 percent of their income for housing, HUD officials stated.

The new research cites two reports – a HUD-published report from January 2021 under the previous administration and a June 2021 report to Congress – that highlight actions state and local governments are taking to reduce barriers that are limiting housing production and preservation. These activities range from state tax policies and incentives to encourage local housing production to local zoning changes, process improvements, and community engagement reforms.

Additionally, the research highlights HUD tools and grant opportunities to assist jurisdictions seeking to increase the supply of affordable housing in their communities, and makes clear that “a comprehensive zoning reform program, such as the one proposed in the Build Back Better Plan currently before Congress, would enhance HUD’s efforts to help communities plan and implement housing policy reforms, study the impact of those reforms, and share the most effective approaches to community engagement and policy actions.”