Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Assessment Tool for Public Housing Agencies-Information Collection: Solicitation of Comment 30-Day Notice Under Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 64475-64496 [2016-22594]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Overview of This Information Collection 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 [FR Doc. 2016–22519 Filed 9–19–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT [Docket No. FR–5173–N–09–B] Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Assessment Tool for Public Housing Agencies—Information Collection: Solicitation of Comment 30-Day Notice Under Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, HUD. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This notice solicits public comment for a period of 30 days, consistent with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), on the Public Housing Agencies (PHA) Assessment Tool. On March 23, 2016, HUD solicited public comment for a period of 60 days on the PHA Assessment Tool. The 60-day notice commenced the notice and comment process required by the PRA in order to obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the information proposed to be collected by the PHA Assessment Tool. This 30-day notice takes into consideration the public comments received in response to the 60-day notice, and completes the public comment process required by the PRA. With the issuance of this notice, and following consideration of additional public comments received in response to this notice, HUD will seek approval from OMB of the PHA Assessment Tool and assignment of an OMB control number. In accordance with the PRA, the assessment tool will undergo this public comment process every 3 years to retain OMB approval. HUD is committed to issuing a separate Assessment Tool for Qualfied PHAs (QPHAs) that choose to conduct and submit an individual AFH or for use by Qualified PHAs that collaborate among multiple QPHAs to conduct and submit a joint AFH. For this reason, this Assessment Tool will be for use by nonQualified PHAs, and for collaborations among non-Qualified PHAs and QPHAs. DATES: Comment Due Date: October 20, 2016. SUMMARY: (1) Type of Information Collection: Extension, Without Change, of a Currently Approved Collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the DHS sponsoring the collection: N–648; USCIS. (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Individuals or households. USCIS uses the Form N– 648 to substantiate a claim for an exception to the requirements of section 312(a) of the Act. Only medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, or clinical psychologists licensed to practice in the United States are authorized to certify Form N–648. (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: The estimated total number of respondents for the information collection N–648 is 17,302 and the estimated hour burden per response is 2 hours. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: The total estimated annual hour burden associated with this collection is 34,604 hours. (7) An estimate of the total public burden (in cost) associated with the collection: The estimated total annual cost burden associated with this collection of information is $912,681. VerDate Sep<11>2014 Dated: September 14, 2016. Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64475 Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding this notice to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410–0500. Communications must refer to the above docket number and title. There are two methods for submitting public comments. All submissions must refer to the above docket number and title. 1. Submission of Comments by Mail. Comments may be submitted by mail to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410–0500. 2. Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to submit comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make them immediately available to the public. Comments submitted electronically through the www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by other commenters and interested members of the public. Commenters should follow the instructions provided on that site to submit comments electronically. ADDRESSES: Note: To receive consideration as public comments, comments must be submitted through one of the two methods specified above. Again, all submissions must refer to the docket number and title of the notice. No Facsimile Comments. Facsimile (FAX) comments are not acceptable. Public Inspection of Public Comments. All properly submitted comments and communications submitted to HUD will be available for public inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at the above address. Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters building, an advance appointment to review the public comments must be scheduled by calling the Regulations Division at 202–708– 3055 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and individuals with speech impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. Copies of all comments submitted are available for inspection and downloading at www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George D. Williams, Sr., Office of Fair E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 64476 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 5249, Washington, DC 20410; telephone number 866–234–2689 (toll-free). Individuals with hearing or speech impediments may access this number via TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service during working hours at 1–800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES I. The 60-Day Notice for the PHA Assessment Tool On March 23, 2016, at 81 FR 15549, HUD published its 60-day notice, the first notice for public comment required by the PRA, to commence the process for approval of the PHA Assessment Tool. The PHA Assessment Tool was modeled on the Local Government Assessment Tool, approved by OMB on December 31, 2015, but with modifications to address the differing authority that PHAs have from local governments, and how fair housing planning may be undertaken by PHAs in a meaningful manner. As with the Local Government Assessment Tool, the Assessment Tool for PHA allows for collaboration with other PHAs. The 60day public comment period ended on May 23, 2016, and HUD received 39 public comments. The following section, Section II, refers to submission requirements for Moving to Work (MTW) Public Housing Agencies. Section III highlights changes made to the PHA Assessment Tool in response to public comment received on the 60-day notice, and further consideration of issues by HUD, and Section IV provides guidance on the PHA region and regional analysis. Lastly, Section V responds to the significant issues raised by public commenters during the 60-day comment period, and Section IV provides HUD’s estimation of the burden hours associated with the PHA Assessment Tool, and further solicits issues for public comment, those required to be solicited by the PRA, and additional issues which HUD specifically solicits public comment. II. Submission Requirements for Moving to Work (MTW) Public Housing Agencies For MTW PHAs submitting an individual AFH, the first AFH shall be submitted no later than 270 calendar days prior to the start of: (A) For MTW PHAs whose service areas are located within the jurisdictional boundaries of a local government subject to the submission requirements outlined in § 5.160 of the AFFH rule, and are completing the AFH by themselves using the Assessment VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 Tool for Public Housing Agencies, the program year that begins on or after January 1, 2019 for which the local government’s new consolidated plan is due as provided in 24 CFR 91.125(b)(2). (B) For MTW PHAs whose service ares are not located within the jurisdictional boundaries of a local government subject to the submission requirements outlined in § 5.160 of the AFFH rule, and are completing the AFH by themselves using the Assessment Tool for Public Housing Agencies, the fiscal year that begins on or after January 1, 2019 for which a new Annual MTW Plan is due as provided in the Moving To Work Standard Agreement (The Standard Agreement). The Standard Agreements are available at: www.hud.gov/mtw. If either of the submission deadlines would result in the MTW PHA not having 9 calendar months with the final Assessment Tool for Public Housing Agencies, HUD will establish a new submission date for those MTW PHAs. MTW PHAs are encouraged to partner with their local governments and conduct a joint or regional AFH using the Assessment Tool for Local Governments and/or with a PHA, in which case the MTW PHA would follow the lead submitter’s submission date. HUD intends on providing additional guidance to MTW PHAs on how to incorporate actions and strategies into Annual MTW Plans that address AFH goals. Second and Subsequent AFHs (A) After the first AFH, subsequent AFHs shall be submitted no later than 195 calendar days prior to the start of the fiscal year that begins five years after the fiscal year for which the prior AFH applied. All MTW PHAs shall submit an AFH no less frequently than once every 5 years, or at such time agreed upon in writing by HUD and the MTW PHA. 24 CFR 5.160(d). Given that MTW PHAs submit annual MTW Plans, the MTW PHA should only submit an AFH prior to the fiscal year that is 5 years after the prior AFH submission. III. Changes Made to the PHA Assessment Tool The following highlights changes made to the Assessment Tool for Public Housing Agencies in response to public comment and further consideration of issues by HUD. Qualified PHA (QPHA) Insert. HUD has added an insert for use by QPHAs that collaborate with non-qualified PHAs. The insert is meant to cover the analysis required for the QPHA’s service area. In addition to the QPHA insert, PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 HUD is committed to creating a separate QPHA assessment tool. Contributing factors. HUD has added several contributing factors based on recommendations from the comments from the public. HUD has also made slight changes to the descriptions of some of the existing contributing factors in light of comments received. These include: Inaccessible public or private infrastructure; Involuntary displacement of survivors of domestic violence; Lack of local or regional cooperation; Lack of public and private investment in specific neighborhoods, including services or amenities; Laws, policies, regulatory barriers to providing housing and supportive services for persons with disabilities; Nuisance laws; Restrictions on landlords accepting vouchers; Siting selection policies, practices and decisions for publicly supported housing; Source of income discrimination. The following contributing factors were removed from the appendix as they were not listed in any of the AFH sections: Inaccessible buildings, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, or other infrastructure; Lack of assistance for housing accessibility modifications; Lending discrimination; Local restrictions or requirements for landlords renting to voucher holders Disparities in Access to Opportunity. HUD has made changes to the structure of the questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section, such as reducing the number of questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section, making the use of the table that includes the opportunity indices optional, and removing portions of questions that referenced PHAs’ waiting lists. HUD no longer specifically calls out the protected class groups for which it is providing data in the questions themselves. Instead, the specific protected class groups will be called out in the instructions for the particular question. HUD has also limited these questions to the protected class groups for which HUD is providing data. Furthermore, HUD has made clear that the policy-related questions at the end of each subsection should be informed by community participation, any consultation with other relevant government agencies, and the PHA’s own local data and local knowledge. Disability and Access. HUD has added two new questions to the Disability and Access section of the Assessment Tool. These questions relate to the PHA’s interaction with individuals with disabilities. Instructions. HUD has made clarifying changes to the instructions to the Assessment Tool, including with respect to the use of local data and local E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices knowledge, additional examples of groups to consult during the community participation process, and additional clarifying instructions in the disparities in access to opportunity section based on the changes made to the questions in that section. In the instructions related to the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section of the Assessment Tool, regarding the HUD-provided data, HUD has also made clear that PHAs should only rely on the maps, rather than the opportunity index table; however, the table will still be provided should PHAs wish to make use of its contents. HUD has also included additional guidance in the instructions with respect to data sources that may be particularly relevant for assessing disability and access issues in the PHA’s service area and region. HUD has also provided general and question-byquestion instructions for the QPHA insert. Fair Housing Analysis of Rental Housing. HUD has clarified the analysis for this section that the analysis applies to PHAs that administer Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. This will reduce burden for public housing to only PHAs. Enhancements for PHAs in the Data and Mapping Tool. While the AFFH Data and Mapping Tool will remain substantially similar in most respects for PHAs as currently provided for local governments, there are some specific enhancements that are planned. These include the addition of maps and tables specifically designed for PHAs as well as enhanced functionality for displaying information on the maps. The enhanced functionality will allow a PHA to view the location of its own public housing developments and housing choice vouchers. Users will be able to identify individual PHAs and use the relevant maps to show the locations of the public housing developments and HCVs for that PHA, or to view all such HUD assisted units that are already currently provided in the tool (In the current Data and Mapping Tool, these are Maps 5 and 6. Map 5 shows the location of individual housing developments in four program categories (public housing, projectbased section 8, Other HUD Multifamily (Section 202 and 811) and LIHTC). Map 6 shows the location of Housing Choice Vouchers by concentration). PHAs and the public should be aware that program participants will not be required to begin conducting their assessments until the full array of online resources, including both the Data and Mapping Tool and the User Interface are complete and operational for PHAs. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 To assist PHAs in their assessments, HUD will be adding two additional maps and two additional tables that are designed to assist with specific questions in the assessment tool. One map will show the percent of housing units that are occupied by renters (by census tract). This first map is based on existing maps in the CPD-Maps tool (https://egis.hud.gov/cpdmaps/). This map is being added for both local governments and for PHAs. A second map map will show the locations of private rental housing that is affordable for very low-income families. This is intended to inform the analysis of the location, or lack thereof, of private affordable rental housing. Finally, two new tables will be provided showing tenant demographics for the PHA’s own assisted residents. Examples of these tables, showing the intended type and format of the information to be provided was included as part of the 60-Day PRA release. IV. PHA Region Please note that a regional analysis is required for all program participants. Under the AFFH rule, the region is larger than the jurisdiction. For PHAs, under the AFFH rule, the jurisdiction is the service area. Unlike local governments and States, PHAs, including QPHAs, have service areas that range from the size of a town to match the boundaries of a State. The region that PHAs will analyze under the AFFH rule thus depends on the service area. For purposes of conducting a regional analysis, HUD identifies the following potential approach regarding geographies as regions for PHAs: PHA jurisdiction/ service area PHA region Within a CBSA .......... Outside of a CBSA and Smaller than a County or Statistically Equivalent (e.g., Parish). Outside of a CBSA and Boundaries Consistent with the County. State .......................... CBSA. County or Statistically Equivalent (e.g., Parish). All Contiguous Counties. State and Areas that Extend into Another State or Broader Geographic Area. A regional analysis is of particular importance for PHAs’ fair housing analyses because fair housing issues are often not constrained by service area boundaries. Additionally, PHAs may be limited by their available housing stock, and, in order to afford full consideration of fair housing choice and access to PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64477 opportunity for residents in the service area, a larger regional analysis is necessary. For example, one PHA may identify segregation as a fair housing issue because their housing stock, and therefore their residents, who are members of a particular protected class group, are located in only one part of the service area. The PHA therefore may identify the location and type of affordable housing as a contributing factor for this issue because the only affordable housing in the jurisdiction is located in that particular part of the City. For the PHA to understand the options for addressing this fair housing issue, the PHA must not only assess where other affordable housing is located in the region, but also consider the regional patterns of segregation, racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, disparities in access to opportunity and disproportionate housing needs, by protected class. In the context of public housing agencies, regional coordination can be especially important to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities. When considering a regional approach to addressing fair housing issues the PHA may consider Housing Choice Voucher portability and shared waiting lists; mobility counseling, increasing use of Small Area Fair Market Rents to set payment standards at the sub-market level; use of Project-Based Vouchers as siting mechanism in higher opportunity areas, including in conjunction with LIHTC; and use of expanded PHA jurisdictional authority to administer vouchers outside its boundaries. The public is invited to provide feedback on this proposed approach. V. Public Comments on the PHA Assessment Tool and HUD’s Responses General Comments General comments offered by the commenters included the following: The structure of the tool is not suitable for PHAs. A commenter stated that the assessment tool for PHAs too closely mimics the Assessment Tool for local jurisdictions in the burden that it will place on entities that must use it to complete their AFHs. Another commenter stated that if a PHA partners with local housing PHAs across the State, ranging from very rural areas to urban areas, to administer day-to-day operations of the HCV program, the structure of the Assessment Tool is very complex and would require an analysis of a vast portion of the State. Another commenter stated that the tool is a centralized directive that does not take E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 64478 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices into account a community’s local needs or priorities in how the PHA or community wants to allocate its scarce resources. The commenter stated that PHAs have a mandate to continue meeting local needs but this forces them to prioritize fair housing activities. Another commenter stated that the tool ignores the real-world constraints under which entities operate. A commenter asked HUD to have PHAs identify and prioritize portions of the tool so that over a number of cycles, the entire tool could be completed. Another commenter stated that the tool should be a streamlined document that provides a broad overview of the AFH process to PHAs, illustrate their various options among the other tools, clarify that the AFH duty applies to Moving to Work Agencies, and do a quick walkthrough of the process of completing the PHA tool. HUD Response: HUD appreciates the commenters’ views and input. HUD will continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for PHAs while also providing guidance, technical assistance and training to support PHAs in affirmatively further fair housing under the Fair Housing Act and complying with other fair housing and civil rights requirements. As such, HUD has made revisions to the Publicly Supported Housing, Disparaties in Access to Opportunity, and Disability and Access sections of the PHA Assessment Tool to guide PHAs in conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis while still being tailored to the operations and programmatic focus of PHAs and their respective service areas. HUD believes these revisions have eliminated duplicate analysis within the PHA tool. Terminology clarification. Several comments focused on certain terms in the tool that commenters advised needed clarification. A commenter asked what is meant by ‘‘proximity to employment.’’ A commenter asked what is an ‘‘adequate supply’’ of accessible housing. A commenter stated that the word ‘‘siting’’ should only be used in reference to new developments, and not used to refer to existing developments. The commenter stated that therefore, the description of the contributing factor ‘‘Siting selection policies, practices, and decisions for publicly supported housing, including discretionary aspects of Qualified Allocation Plans and other programs’’ should not use ‘‘siting’’ to reference ‘‘acquisition with rehabilitation of previously unsubsidized housing.’’ HUD Response: HUD thanks these commenters for requesting clarification. HUD’s AFFH Rule Guidebook, available at https://www.hudexchange.info/ VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 resource/4866/affh-rule-guidebook/, may provide some clarification on terms commenters felt needed clarification. HUD also notes that past siting decisions may be contributing factors to a fair housing issue—and is included as part of the explanation of the contributing factor ‘‘Location and type of affordable housing.’’ HUD agrees with the commenter that the siting selection policies contributing factor is meant to focus on new developments, but also includes the consideration of how those policies might target the ‘‘acquisition and rehabilition of previously unsubsidized housing’’ because it results in the creation of new affordable housing opportunities for which location should be considered. HUD notes that with regards to past siting decisions, the goal to overcome that contributing factor may not involve ‘‘resiting’’ that development. In order to understand the fair housing issues affecting a community, it is important that past siting decisions be taken into consideration. While the past siting and zoning ordinances may have contributed to the concentration of Publicly Suported Housing in certain neighborhoods in a jurisdiction that are experiencing racial and ethnic concentration, the AFFH rule outlines how PHAs may undertake a balanced approach in considering place-based investments and mobility to deconcentate neighborhoods and help protected class group members that use PSH move into low-povery and integrated neighorhoods of opportunity. HUD’s description of contributing factors in the appendix clarifies that existing publicly supported housing developments may be considered under the contributing factor ‘‘Location and type of affordable housing.’’ The tool is too burdensome. Commenters stated that the tool is too burdensome and PHAs do not have enough resources to complete an AFH. Commenters stated that PHAs will have to hire consultants because the assessment is too complex (which includes the analysis of the data and dissimilarity index) to be effectively completed by staff without specific statistical and mapping knowledge, and that it is hard to get a true estimate from a consultant at this point or figure out which consultant will provide high quality services. The commenters stated that this is an ineffective use of staff time. The commenters stated that resources that could be put into housing related tasks are being funneled into completing this tool. Another commenter stated that PHAs do not have the resources and run the risk of PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 putting all of their energy and resources into doing the assessments, leaving nothing left to address the identified Fair Housing Issues. Another commenter asked that during the six weeks it will take to prepare the tool, how clients will be served, and what will happen if a PHA’s high performance status drops because of the time being spent on the AFH. HUD Response: HUD is sympathetic to all program participants who have limited capacity to conduct an AFH, and will continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for PHAs, and all program participants, while still ensuring a meaningful fair housing analysis is conducted such that goals that will result in a material, positive change can be established. While HUD encourages PHAs and QPHAs to partner with Local Governments to jointly share the workload associated with the AFH fair housing analysis and planning requirements, HUD proposes a streamlined set of QPHA questions for analysis of their service areas independently and in collaboration with States, Local Governments and other PHAs in their vicinity whether they are within or outside of a CBSA. Moreover, HUD recognizes potential concerns program participants may experience due to devoting resources toward the AFH, and it is HUD’s priority to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to PHAs and all program participants as they workto conduct their AFHs as well as providing as much help it can in allaying other worries as a result of completing the AFH. Funding is needed to complete the tool. Commenters stated that PHAs need funding to complete their AFHs. Commenters stated that the AFH does not recognize the zero-sum nature of a PHA’s resource allocation, and that the President’s FY 2017 budget proposal did not request additional money for PHAs and other participating entities to complete their AFH tools. Another commenter stated that it will have to spend subsidy or Capital Fund Program (CFP) money to complete the tool and this will take away from being able to maintain properties. A commenter stated that if HUD cannot provide additional funding, HUD needs to find ways to provide additional resources to all that need to complete an AFH. HUD Response: HUD understands that program participants have limited resources and will continue to try to reduce burden. In addition, HUD will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to assist all program participants to as they work to conduct their assessments of fair housing. Additoinally, HUD will E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to assist PHAs, as well as other program participants, in compliance with their fair housing and civil rights obligations. Allow waivers of the AFH if the PHA has insufficient funding or staff. A commenter suggested that without additional funding, HUD should accept waivers from PHAs to provide time to complete AFHs, especially those seeking to join efforts with neighboring PHAs and local governments. HUD Response: Unfortunately, HUD cannot provide waivers for certain program participants with respect to the submission of an AFH. However, HUD has built in flexibility for program participants to collaborate to submit a joint or regional AFH, provided for at 24 CFR 5.156 of the AFFH Rule. Program participants may be able to adjust their program or fiscal years to align with other program participants in order to collaborate on an AFH. Exempt small and qualified PHAs (QPHAs) from submitting an AFH. A commenter stated that QPHAs should be exempt because they lack funds and staff. Another commenter stated that slightly more than half of all PHAs manage fewer than 250 units and nearly 88 percent manage fewer than 500. The commenter stated that small PHAs have become leaner over the years and do not have the capacity to undertake the requirements of an AFH. Another commenter stated that if HUD will not exempt small and qualified PHAs, HUD should offer a significantly streamlined and simplified AFH tool for use by agencies with 550 combined units or fewer that will be of some use to them as they analyze steps they can take to AFFH. HUD Response: HUD recognizes the challenges small PHAs in undertaking the requirements of completing the Assessment of Fair Housing. In keeping with this, HUD has added an insert to the PHA and Local Government Assessment Tools that may be used by QPHAs that are conducting a joint AFH with other non-qualified PHAs and local governments. Use of this insert may reduce burden for the QPHA in completing an Assessment of Fair Housing. As HUD has stated previously, HUD will continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for all program participants, including smaller PHAs and QPHAs in complying with fair housing and civil rights requirements. HUD also notes that it is committed to creating a separate QPHA tool. Concerns with the use of local data. A commenter suggested local data that PHAs need to rely on may not exist, and cited as examples, education and school VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 proficiency data that the commenter stated can be difficult to obtain because some PHAs serve in areas where students can attend schools in multiple school jurisdictions across the entire metropolitan region, including outside the jurisdiction of the PHA. The commenter stated that HUD does not include protections for PHAs that claim they cannot compile or obtain local data. Another commenter stated that local data should be optional because the burden of collecting it is immense. A commenter suggested that HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research provide greater technical assistance to PHAs to help them complete the AFH, including training and webinars on data analysis, along with a cadre of experts who can assist PHAs in meeting this requirement. HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments. HUD notes that program participants need only use local data when it meets the criteria set forth in the AFFH rule at 24 CFR 5.152 and in the instructions to the Assessment Tool. HUD has also included clarification in the instructions to the Assessment Tool to make clear when local data must be used and HUD’s expectations with respect to the use of such data. Specifically, HUD states in the instructions that program participants must use reasonable judgment in deciding what supplemental information from among the numerous sources available would be most relevant to their analysis. HUD later explains in the instructions that where HUD has not provided data for a specific question in the Assessment Tool and program participants do not have local data or local knowledge that would assist in answering the question, PHAs should note this, rather than leaving the question blank. Define the boundaries of a region. A commenter stated that when HUD finalizes the regional data, it should clearly define the boundaries of the regions so that PHAs know exactly the regional area that must be covered in their analyses and therefore the extent of the data necessary to answer the template questions. HUD Response: HUD appreciates this comment and will work to ensure the final data provides these boundaries. Burden estimates are too low. Commenters stated that HUD’s estimate that it will take one person working 40 hours a week for 6 weeks to complete, is far too low due to the complexity of the AFH. A commenter stated that PHA staff are knowledgeable on program regulations and laws pertaining to Fair Housing and 504 requirements, but not providing complex statistical data PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64479 analysis. A commenter stated that it estimates that it will take three or four times as much as the 240-hour estimate, equivalent to almost one full time staff person when only four staff members are dedicated to the entire Section 8 program. The commenter stated that it is not reasonable for the AFH to take up to 25 percent of the administrative budget, but this is likely to happen if the State cannot combine efforts with its CPD formula programs. Another commenter stated that it estimates that it will take 1,4440 hours or 180 working days to complete the AFH. Another commenter stated that it estimates that completing the AFH will take longer than 240 hours and collaborating will not save any time due to the need for meetings, identifying responsibilities, and coming to agreement on the meaning of data. A commenter stated that since HUD funding is at an all-time shortage, current staff have too many responsibilities to maintain the level of effectiveness as is, and the challenge to stay as viable as possible under these circumstances (with the lack of ability to use funds as effectively as Moving to Work PHAs), the burden of proposed collection places the burden ‘‘on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the backbreaker), 10!’’ Another commenter stated that program participants will commit a total of just under 1,000,000 person hours to AFH completion every five years or so, and that based on the estimates given in the notice of how many PHAs will submit and how much time each one takes, this will consume more than 100 person years annually. A commenter stated that the outreach portion alone can easily take more than 100 hours. The commenter stated that 5 public meetings with 5 staff in attendance for three hours (set up and staying after to answer questions) is already 75 hours, and that does not include preparing materials, marketing, arranging space, etc. Another commenter stated that HUD has revised the estimates and has estimated without evidence the populations of PHAs that will collaborate and submit independently. The commenter stated that if only half the PHAs choose to collaborate, the estimated burden would rise by almost 50,000 hours to 150 of HUD’s current estimate. The commenter stated that HUD does not know how long it will take to prepare an AFH using any of the 3 tools published so far, and that HUD’s assumptions about collaboration are not based in fact, and so HUD’s estimate of burden is unsupported and probably inadequate. HUD Response: HUD understands the concerns of these commenters, and will E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 64480 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for all program participants, including PHAs. In addition, HUD will also continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training as needed and appropriate, in an effort to build the capacity of program participants to undertake an Assessment of Fair Housing. In light of revisions being proposed for the AFH tools, HUD will continue to evaluate potential adjustments to burden estimates that are necessary for the applicable AFH Tools. Electronic submission will help eliminate burden. Commenters stated that electronic submission is the only answer to eliminate any potential burden to provide the information by the agency. The commenters stated that this analysis seems to address all the areas of concern with the quality of information being asked for the agency to provide, but that too much information being asked could be a potential setback as in reviewing the maps in the tools, information can be confusing and difficult to find the information being sought because the maps become hard to read. HUD Response: HUD agrees with these commenters and is continuing to work to provide PHAs with an electronic submission mechanism. HUD will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training as needed and appropriate, to aid program participants in understanding how to read the HUD-provided maps. Eliminate the local knowledge requirement. Commenter stated that it is a costly burden to obtain local knowledge and data because the PHA’s service area covers most of the State. A commenter expressed concern about data availability or meaningfulness in rural areas. The commenter stated that the requirement to use local data here is burdensome. The commenter stated that there needs to be explicit instructions about what to do when there is no HUD provided data or no meaningful HUD provided data and local data or knowledge is not particularly useful. HUD Response: HUD appreciates this commenter’s suggestion, however, HUD notes that local knowledge is critical information that can provide context and clarity for the HUD-provided data, to supplement the HUD-provided data, and illuminate fair housing issues affecting a jurisdiction or region. However, HUD notes that the instructions to the Assessment Tool explain that where HUD has not provided data for a specific question in the Assessment Tool and program participants do not have local data or local knowledge that would assist in answering the question, PHAs should VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 explain this, rather than leaving the question blank. The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program does not fit an AFH analysis. Commenters stated that PHAs that primarily operate a voucher program, which promotes tenant choice and, under the HCV program, households ultimately choose their own housing, so many of the considerations of siting of future housing that could be addressed through a tool would not be germane. Another commenter stated that a PHA administering an HCV program can educate and provide information to voucher households about the characteristics of a neighborhood but that does not appear sufficient per the AFFH rule. The commenter stated that voucher households have the right to choose preferred rental housing unit despite information. Other commenters stated that the HCV data is limited and does not allow AFH submitters to assess which PHAs have vouchers placed within a jurisdiction. The commenters stated that alternative data sets that include the number of vouchers by PHA is missing data for Moving to Work jurisdictions, which are often the larges PHAs in their region. Commenters stated that this data should be made available in the AFH data tool to permit a complete analysis of concentration patterns in the HCV program. The commenters stated that if a PHA jurisdiction contains a concentration of vouchers from other PHAs, this may be an important indicator of source of income discrimination in the other PHAs jurisdiction, and also that a PHA’s mobility program is inadequate or that the PHA is steering voucher holders to specific areas in violation of the Fair Housing Act and its obligation to AFFH. HUD Response: HUD respectfully disagrees with the commenters’ assertion that the HCV program does not fit in the AFH analysis. HUD notes that program participants that are required to conduct and submit an AFH to HUD are specified by the AFFH rule at 24 CFR 5.154(b) and include PHAs receiving assistance under Sections 8 or 9 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. However, HUD will continue to evaluate different ways to portray data relating to the HCV program to assist PHAs in conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis. To operate the HCV program within a jurisdiction, PHAs undertake market analyses and rental reasonableness tests to understand the supply of available quality affordable housing units that are feasible for leaseup using the payment standards PHAs may set within the overall jurisdiction or in smaller FMR areas or PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 neighborhoods within the PHA’s jurisdiction. The AFH has no practical utility. Commenters stated that the information asked by the PHA tool and required by the AFFH rule does not have practical utility and that it is not necessary to further the FHA’s mandate to affirmatively further fair housing. A commenter stated that as an agency where the affordable housing has been in place for many, many years and the lack of funding to develop in areas of opportunity, the collection of data is not needed. The commenter stated that the PHA already understands the lack of affordable housing in areas of opportunity and obstacles to develop in these areas; any data collection will just support this argument for the need to develop in these areas. Commenters stated that the AFH requires PHAs to set fair housing goals for activities that are out of their control. Commenters stated that it does not make sense to have an entity that does not have authority to achieve these goals conduct the analysis both because the entity would not have specialized knowledge of the field and because equitable considerations would stress that the entity responsible for achieving the goals should be the one conducting the analysis. Commenters stated that the AFH requires them to set goals outside of their scope of control, and they may misjudge the extent to which achieving these goals is feasible since these goals may be in areas outside of their day-to-day experience. Other commenters stated that the tool requires PHAs to analyze factors that may have been decided decades ago (like siting decisions) and make conclusions about impediments to fair housing (like zoning and permitting) that are out of their control. Commenters advised that the following areas are outside of a PHA’s experience or control: School assignment policy (HCV programs will need to create tools to discover the schools voucher holders’ children attend to investigate, large agencies’ participant households sent their children to a large number of school districts), employment opportunities (PHAs may know where participants work but do not have knowledge of access to employment opportunities and do not influence where employers choose to locate or where skillsets match up), access to transportation (PHA’s have little to say in establishing or changing transit routes or schedules), geographic distribution of people with disabilities (HUD has acknowledged a lack of data), whether Olmstead plans have been implemented (PHAs exercise little or no E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices influence over institutions where people with disability may be housed and lack the expertise to evaluate appropriateness, and have no more control over the contents of a plan than any member of the public), and whether people with disabilities have access to public infrastructure (PHAs are in the same position as other members of the public when it comes to infrastructure outside of their physical assets). HUD Response: HUD respectfully disagrees with these commenters. HUD acknowledges that PHAs may already understand the fair housing issues and contributing factors afffecting in their service areas, and have limited control over certain areas of analysis contained in the AFH; however, those areas are part of the community in which the PHA is located and may have an affect or impact on fair housing in the PHA’s service area and region. In order to best understand the fair housing issues affecting the PHA’s service area and region, PHAs must take a holistic approach in analyzing their fair housing landscape in order to set appropriate goals that will allow the PHA to take meaningful actions that affirmatively further fair housing, including identifying policies and activities that may or may not be within their control. HUD also notes that the community participation process that is part of conducting an AFH may yield important information from members of the community about these issues for the PHA to consider as it conducts its AFH. HUD encourages PHAs to think creatively in approaching goals. HUD will provide some examples of goals specifically for PHAs when it updates the AFFH Rule Guidebook, and will provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to support all program participants as they work to conduct their AFHs. The tool should facilitate a broad range of approaches to affirmatively furthering fair housing. Commenters stated that the rule emphasizes the importance of a balanced approach, but does not allow for the assessment and inclusion of community revitalization efforts. The commenters stated that a two-pronged approach that both increases access to areas of opportunity and improves neighborhood conditions is best. The commenters stated that HUD should honor the value and even necessity of preservation of affordable housing, wherever it is located, to prevent displacement and further racial and economic segregation in cities with substantially tightening rental markets. Other commenters stated that the lack of preservation related questions and guidance in the PHA tool suggests that VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 development in non-impacted areas is simply a more legitimate goal than preservation of existing housing that is not within an ‘‘area of opportunity.’’ The commenters stated that, for example, the PHA tool does not have questions directly assessing the preference of residents to remain in their own neighborhoods, even if segregated, or that help a PHA document that preservation and rehabilitation is the most appropriate way for the PHA to further fair housing while also respecting the rights of residents to remain in their homes and communities. The commenters stated that, in contrast, there is a preponderance of questions related to moving families away from the communities where they live, suggesting that HUD believes that preservation cannot be an important part of an acceptable strategy for meeting fair housing obligations. The commenters encouraged HUD to modify the tool to include more questions about preservation strategies and acknowledge that moving residents to areas of opportunity need not take precedence over providing existing, underserved communities with decent, safe, and sanitary affordable housing and improving neighborhood quality. The commenters stated that questions could include requests for information about community reinvestment and sitespecific projects to restore deteriorated housing, and the instructions should also acknowledge that preservation is an appropriate fair housing tool for PHAs. Another commenter stated that HUD should provide clearer directions in each of the ‘‘additional information’’ subsections to foster a more balanced assessment pertinent to the fair housing issue under consideration. The commenter stated that positive assets that should be listed include affordable housing preservation organizations and community-based development organizations that have long worked with residents to improve publicly supported housing and/or community living conditions. The commenter stated that fair housing choice must include residents’ ability to choose to remain in their homes and communities, even if these are racially or economically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPs). A commenter stated that in Part V.D., questions for both the ‘‘Public Housing Agency Program Analysis’’ and the ‘‘Other Publicly Supported Housing Programs,’’ ask PHAs to compare the demographics of developments to the demographics of the service area and region. The commenter expressed concern on how this will be interpreted PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64481 because sensitivity to the wishes of existing residents must be paramount. The commenter stated that PHAs should describe the actions taken to determine residents’ desire to move and the resources (and in what amounts) that have been used to improve the neighborhood in which the public supported housing development is located. The commenter stated that the ‘‘Additional Information’’ questions should require PHAs to describe efforts that have been made, are underway, or are planned to preserve Project Based Section 8 at risk of opting out of the program or prepaying the mortgage and exiting the program, or of other HUD multi-family assisted developments leaving the affordable housing stock due to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage maturity. The commenter stated that PHAs should describe efforts that are made, underway, or planned to preserve Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) developments, including at Year 15 and beyond Year 30. HUD Response: HUD appreciates the commenters’ recommendations and will consider adding questions on how to evaluate tenant viewpoints on relocation and mobility from neighborhoods of concentration to more integrated areas. This will include HCV families and residents living in publicly supported housing properties in R/ECAPs and segregated neighborhoods. HUD encourages a balanced approach to fair housing planning, as it stated in the preamble to the final AFFH rule, which may include a variety of strategies to affirmatively further fair housing, as appropriate, depending on local circumstances. HUD includes questions and contributing factors in the Assessment Tool that relate to both place-based and mobility strategies in order to assist program participants in determining how to set goals that will lead to the program participant ultimately affirmatively furthering fair housing. Conducting an analylsis that compares the demographics of the residents of publicly supported housing to the area in which it is located is necessary for a fair housing anlaysis. Specifically, for this Assessment Tool, conducting a development-bydevelopment analysis and comparing the demographics of developments to the areas in which they are located is critical when a PHA is conducting a fair housing analysis of its jurisdiction. Finally, HUD appreciates the suggestions of commenters relating to particular subjects that should be added to the ‘‘Additional Information’’ questions. HUD believes that these are all important areas of analysis, and will E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 64482 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices continue to consider whether they should be added to the questions, included in instructions, or provided for in guidance. HUD will consider questions on how to evaluate tenant viewpoints on relocation and mobility from neighborhoods of concentration to more integrated areas. HUD will also consider giving instructions in the PHA and Local Government Tools on community participation to solicit feedback on preservation of properties and resident relocation and mobility from R/ECAPs to more integrated neighborhoods of opportunity. These are issues PHAs may solicit feedback on in surveys, community participation meetings with residents of impacted developments, and public hearings. The analysis of data is burdensome. A commenter stated that the sheer volume of data to be analyzed and the breadth of responsibility placed upon housing authorities are very troubling. The commenter stated that although there is discussion of housing authorities under 550 units, size alone cannot be the determining factor for the burden the rule will place; that PHAs with more units that operate in rural counties should be considered. The commenter also stated that the analysis and process is for naught when there is one high school and no public transportation, and the commenter asked about what happens if the town is under one census tract? The commenter stated that very rural towns and cities are not entitlement cities so there is no CDBG funding, and that many of these rural areas were hit hard in the recession and lost manufacturing jobs that are not coming back. The commenter stated that PHAs in these situations have limited resources and so do the communities, and that this time and money could be better spent addressing housing issues. Commenters stated that the instructions to Section VI of the tool acknowledge that PHAs may not be able to control all of these factors. The commenters asked HUD not to burden PHAs with extensive data collection and goal development for factors they cannot control and instead focus on those they can control. A commenter expressed concern that HUD provided data is not detailed enough to assess fair housing issues between rural and urban areas throughout its State and to complete the AFH. Another commenter expressed concern that there are significant gaps in HUD-provided national data that will impede PHAs in adequately assessing and addressing the fair housing needs of people with disabilities. The commenters stated that HUD should provide Federal data from the Medicaid VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 program and from its own data collection. The commenter stated that while there may not be ‘‘uniform’’ data concerning people with disabilities similar to the data concerning race and ethnicity (especially those persons with disabilities who live in institutions or group homes), consideration of major sources of information should still be considered in order to include their consideration in fair housing planning. Some commenters stated that much of the information requested through the tool exhibits practical utility but the significant data limitations (e.g. the ability to disaggregate ethnic groups, neighborhood level data, local data, etc.) preclude the ability to easily describe contextual factors that may demonstrate impacts to particular groups. Several commenters stated that the HUD provided data is unwieldy and difficult to understand, and that, in some cases, it relies on complex social science indices whose meaning is largely unintelligible despite the guidance provided in the instructions and the AFFH Rule Guidebook. The commenters stated that the level of sophistication required to understand this information is at odds with the emphasis on public participation. Another commenter stated that the tool asks for data that does not exist and leaves agencies in danger of noncompliance when there is no way to comply. HUD Response: HUD thanks these commenters for their views and recognizes that representitives of program participants may immediately feel overwhelmed; however, HUD will provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to assist all program participants in in building their capacity to analyze the data. As HUD has explained in an earlier response, it will continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for program participants while still ensuring a meaningful fair housing analysis is conducted. HUD also acknowledges the limits of the data it is providing to program participants, especially with respect to rural areas. HUD will continue to assess the feasibility of providing additional data sets that would assist program participants in conducting an analysis in rural areas. Similarly, HUD understands the limits of the data it is providing with respect to individuals with disabilities. HUD will also continue to assess the feasibility of providing additional data related to disability and access in the future. HUD will also continue to evaluate how it can provide data in as user-friendly a manner as possible and will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and training as needed and appropriate, to assist program participants in their use of HUD-provided data to complete an Assessment of Fair Housing. HUD already has the information sought through the AFH: HUD should provide the analysis. Commenters stated that the tool requests information HUD already has. The commenters stated that demographics concerning public housing property residents and voucher holders is submitted through HUD Form 50058; HUD has participants’ characteristics and the Census Bureau provides demographics of the jurisdiction’s population so HUD can make comparisons with the income eligible population itself; HUD already has the locations of public housing properties and addresses of voucher holders so it should prepopulate the AFH tool with this data. HUD Response: HUD thanks these commenters for their views, however, HUD believes it is important for PHAs to do their analysis to better understand the fair housing issues in their regions and service areas. Understanding the historical context, including policies that may have led to such issues will provide context for how program participants may seek to resolve them. HUD also notes the importance of program participants engaging with their communities in order to best understand the fair housing issues and contributing factors affecting their geographic areas of analysis. Thus, HUD is providing data that includes the demographics of residents and locations for certain categories of publicly supported housing to assist PHAs in conducting their fair housing analysis. PHAs must use the HUD-provided data, along with local knowledge and local data (when such local data and local knowledge meet the criteria set forth in 24 CFR 5.512 and the instructions to the Assessment Tool) when assessing fair housing issues. Maps and tables are not easily workable. Several commenters expressed concern about the functionality of the maps and tables. Commenters stated that dot density maps do not work at a high level for every variable and HUD should reevaluate the type of mapping thematics. A commenter requested that AFFH data and mapping tools have the capability to group data based on the selection of numerous counties to build sub-State areas. Another commenter expressed concern that HUD provided data is not detailed enough to assess fair housing issues between rural and urban areas throughout its State and to complete the AFH. The commenter stated that HUD should include the E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices margins of error in the data set since there is a great difference in the accuracy between rural and urban areas. Other commenters stated that maps tailored to the needs of States, insular areas, and PHAs outside of CBSAs remain unavailable, posing a serious problem for PHAs and their stakeholders and commenter cannot assess utility of missing maps. The commenters stated that this is a problem for PHAs that must make decisions concerning their approach to AFH tool completion, such as whether or not to pursue a collaboration. The commenters suggested that HUD rescind all AFH notices and information collections until such time as all of HUD’s maps and tables appropriate for each kind of entity that may be submitting an AFH are available. Commenters stated that without the full functionality of the tables and maps, it is difficult to fully evaluate how the draft AT would work in conjunction with this data. The commenters stated that many of the sample maps are hard to read due in large part to their static nature (unable to zoom in or out, or otherwise adjust map settings). The commenters stated that HUD should strive to finalize the maps and tables as soon as possible, ideally before the initiation of the 30-day comment period. The commenters stated that if HUD cannot finalize the maps and tables, as it waits to gather information about PHA service areas, at minimum it should reference the titles of the relevant maps and tables within the instructions for individual tool questions. Other commenters stated that regional maps should consistently denote the PHA service area as a frame of reference. Commenters stated that the analyses of the indices by national origin and familial status cannot be done since the index scores are not currently organized by protected group categories other than race/ethnicity, and HUD should make this data available for review. Commenters stated that the comparisons with HUD-provided maps (such as looking side-by-side at the national origin demographics map and the school proficiency index map) are almost impossible because the maps are incredibly difficult to use. Commenters stated that in sample tables 9 and 10, it is unclear whether the ‘‘% with problems:’’ Reflects the percentage of individuals in a specific protected group or the percentage of overall households with housing/severe housing problems. Commenters also stated that the data for household type and size need to be broken down further to reflect families with three, four, and five household members because family households VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 with more than five people are not an appropriate proxy for families with children. Commenters stated that it is very difficult to use sample Maps 7 and 8 to answer subpart Question 2 in Disproportionate Housing Needs. The commenters stated that the dots are very clustered and cover most of the PHA service area so the various desegregations are impossible to decipher. Commenters stated that it is unclear from the data in tables 9–11 how a PHA can make the deductions required by the instructions for Disproportionate Housing Needs in Question 3, which seems to indicate that PHAs should read the data in the tables together to compare the needs of families with children for housing units with two, three, or more bedrooms with the available existing housing stock in each category of publicly supported housing. The commenters stated that HUD must provide guidance on how a PHA is to interpret data given in these tables to provide the requested analyses. Commenters stated that a color spectrum should be used to classify census geographies of note as dot density maps, as presented, have too much flexibility in visualization and could mislead some agencies and members of the public to false conclusions. The commenters stated that HUD should publish entire series of maps for each jurisdiction as a set of PDFs to easily share with the public, incorporate ACS data to ensure more up to date data for future submissions, and address limitations of non-disaggregated data to tell accurate story for existing and emerging groups. HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions from commenters relating to the usability of the data HUD is providing. HUD will continue to evaluate how to provide the data in the most user-friendly manner in order to help facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis. HUD also appreciates the suggestions for disaggregating certain data, making tables and maps clearer and easier to understand or interpret, and adding additional protected class groups to the HUD-provided data. HUD will continue to consider these recommendations as it provides updates to the AFFH data and mapping tool. HUD also recognizes that the data has certain limitations, and will continue to assess how to best provide data for rural areas. HUD will also continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training as needed and appropriate, to assist program participants in building capacity to use the HUDprovided data when conducting an AFH. PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64483 HUD should provide additional data relating to persons with disability. Commenters recommended the following three part approach to data on people with disabilities: (1) HUD should provide PHAs with data readily available in the federal system, including data from Money Follows the Person and Medicaid home and community-based waiver programs and options, available from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), data on people with disabilities living in nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities, available from CMS, and data on people with disabilities experiencing homelessness available in the HUD Homeless Management Information System and/or Annual Homeless Assessment Report databases; (2) Where HUD-provided national data are unavailable, instead of HUD permitting PHAs to assert that ‘‘data and knowledge are unavailable’’ HUD should require PHAs to seek out and use local data and knowledge; (3) HUD should provide additional guidance to PHAs as to the types of local data and knowledge that are likely to be available and how to find these. Commenters also stated that all disability data should be provided by age group, and PHAs should be required to consider this distinction in their analyses. The commenters stated that due to the lack of nationally uniform data, the instructions to the Disability and Access analysis section should strongly encourage PHAs to solicit input from community stakeholders about sources of local data and local knowledge. The commenters stated that HUD should make suggestions of places that might have local data. HUD Response: HUD appreciates the recommendations of these commenters and agrees that to the extent feasible, HUD should provide disability-related data to program participants and the public to better facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis related to individuals with disabilities. HUD will continue to seek out data sources that are nationally uniform that can be provided in the AFFH data and mapping tool in the future. Additionally, HUD notes that program participants are required to use local data and local knowledge to complete their AFH where that information meets the criteria set forth at 24 CFR 5.152 and in the instructions to the Assessment Tool, but ne only indicate that the program participant does not have local data or local knowledge to supplement the HUD-provided data. HUD notes that CMS data may be particularly relevant E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 64484 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices for program participants to consider and would welcome program participants’ use of such data as they conduct their AFH. HUD notes that there are examples of sources of local data and local knowledge provided in the AFFH Rule Guidebook, and would encourage program participants and the public to evaluate whether those data may be useful in completing the AFH. Demographic data for Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments is needed. Commenters stated that tax credit units are vital to community development. The commenters stated that more important than completing an AFH is helping more people and building more tax credit units for families to live in. Commenters stated that LIHTC data does not include data on race, ethnicity, and other demographic data by project, which is collected by HUD annually pursuant to Section 2002 of the Housing Economic Recovery Act, and that without this data, PHAs cannot conduct a full assessment of the concentration of subsidized units and the demographics of those tenants. One commenter stated that PHAs and their subsidiary nonprofits that are involved in the development and ownership of LIHTC developments have this data readily available, and their failure to include it should be a red flag. Other commenters stated that the data provided on demographics of nonLIHTC assisted housing developments in Table 8 does not directly link to census tract demographics, creating an additional burden on submitters and undermining a key element of fair housing analysis. HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their input on LIHTC data. HUD acknowledges the limited availability of LIHTC data on tenant characteristics at the development level. HUD is continuing its efforts to collect and report on this data However,HUD notes that there are substantial barriers to providing LIHTC tenant data at the developmental level, including both the completeness of the data coverage and ongoing privacy concerns with releasing tenant information for small projects, which make up a significant portion of the LIHTC inventory. For example, commenters should also be aware that information at the development-level will often not be available due to federal privacy requirements and the small project sizes in a large portion of the LIHTC inventory. HUD encourages program participants to use local data and local knowledge, when such information meets the criteria set forth at 24 CFR 5.152 and in the instructions VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 to the Assessment Tool, to complete this portion of the analysis. The Assessment Tool’s certification requirements create new legal liability for PHAs. Commenters expressed concern that the PHA Tool’s Certification requirements may create new legal liability for PHAs. The commenters stated that by signing the Certification, PHAs may expose themselves to audits by HUD for failure to further the goals they set or they may be subject to lawsuits from parties who believe they have been injured by the fair housing impediments that the PHA described. The commenters stated that liability is created not by actual failure of the PHA to perform under the ACC or other agreements with HUD, but by virtue of the fact that the Assessment Tool requires PHAs to certify that they will take actions that they have neither the legal authority nor resources to take. Other commenters stated that liability exists in detailed levels within the Assessment Tool itself, and stated, as an example, the tool, in asking PHAs to assess past goals, effectively requires PHAs to make a public admission of wrongdoing which may promote litigation. The commenters stated that this question and the broader emphasis on failures should be removed. Commenters encouraged HUD to create a safe harbor standard for PHAs that act in good faith in determining the most relevant one (or two or three) data sets or political boundaries for use in completing the tool. Another commenter stated that the tool is not an effective means for HUD to enforce the AFH. The commenter stated that the tool runs the risk of punishing PHAs for lacking resources and may unintentionally create a spirit of animosity towards the concepts of fair housing instead of encouraging PHAs to be champions of fair housing. HUD Response: HUD understands the concerns raised by these commenters, however, HUD notes that the AFH is a planning document., In order to effectively engage in fair housing planning, it is important for program participants to evaluate the past and current state of fair housing in their communities in order to set meaningful goals to overcome contributing factors and related fair housing issues. HUD also notes that the Assessment Tool provides opportunities for PHAs to identify past goals, strategies, and actions in order to allow the program participant to reflect on past progress or setbacks with respect to fair housing. The purpose of this portion of the assessment is to allow program participants to readjust their approach and make changes to any goals they may PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 not have been able to achieve. Failure to achieve a goal set in an AFH does not necessarily mean the program participant has not met its statutory obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. Consultation requirements. Commenters had a variety of comments on the consultation requirements. Commenters stated that the tool should require PHAs to consult with and reach out to a wide variety of organizations, including those that represent people who are members of the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes because the regulations seek to have PHA plans informed by meaningful community participation. Other commenters stated that PHAs should be required to list all entities consulted and the dates consulted, so residents and advocates can assess if this was most appropriate. The commenters stated that a PHA should provide a written summary of the input offered through the consultation and attach this as an appendix to the Assessment Tool. Other commenters stated that since the tool is intended to be a guide for PHAs, and therefore residents and community participants, it should include examples of the types of groups PHAs could consider reaching out to. A commenter suggested that Resident Advisory Boards, resident councils, groups representing HCV households, people on waiting lists, community groups, affordable housing advocacy organizations, and legal services offices. Another commenter stated that PHAs should describe how community participation was both provided for and encouraged, and should present a detailed list (with date and time of day) of specific participation activities for various components of the stakeholder community. Another commenter stated that PHAs should be required to list organizations that submitted written comments and/or delivered remarks at public hearings, so that residents and advocates will be able to assess whether the groups that participated represent a balance of opinions. Commenters stated that PHAs should be required to address the following: How meetings and events were held at times and places conducive to optimal participation (ex: Meetings on evenings and weekends); how PHAs assessed language needs and provided for translation of notices and vital documents, as well as provided interpreters for meetings and public hearings; how far in advance notice of meetings and events was provided, and the form of notification (mailings, postings in common areas of properties, easily identified notices on the PHA’s E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices home page, Listserv, notices in newspapers oriented to neighborhoods where PHA properties are located and in appropriate language, notices in newsletters of organizations serving various populations, PSAs, provisions for LEP persons, provisions for people with visual, hearing, or other communications disabilities, social media); discussions with residents of public housing to determine whether residents want to remain in their homes and communities or relocate to areas that may offer other opportunities; summarize all local knowledge and comments and explained why they were accepted or why not, and included as an appendix; outreach to tenants beyond a Resident Advisory Board, particularly underserved populations such as HCV holders and single mothers: Many developments may not even have a Resident Advisory Board; and efforts to conduct outreach to residents of public housing, Section 8 HCV holders, and persons eligible to be served by the PHA, and to briefly describe how documents associated with the AFH, including the draft AGH, were provided to public housing tenants, voucher holders, and other interested parties. Another commenter stated that HUD should amend Question 2 on page one to require PHAs to provide a list of stakeholders working in the areas of public health, education, workforce development, environmental planning or transportation. A commenter stated that the accompanying instructions should reference 24 CFR 903.17 which requires, in part, that the PHA makes the draft AFH and other required documents available for public inspection. Another commenter stated that the instructions and guidance should provide PHA-specific suggestions regarding advertising public meetings and hearings and recommended making the draft documents easily accessible. Another commenter stated that the instructions accompanying Question 2 should provide examples of the types of organizations with which PHAs may consult. A commenter stated that by focusing on a community participation process that seeks to reach the ‘‘broadest audience possible,’’ HUD forces PHAs to choose quantity over quality engagement by limiting the PHA’s ability to focus engagement on those most impacted by impediments or barriers to fair housing as well as prioritize key demographics. HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions from commenters. PHAs are required to comply with the requirements for community VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 participation, consultation, and coordination set forth in 24 CFR 5.158 and the requirements set forth at 24 CFR part 903. HUD has provided examples of groups that program participants may wish to reach out to in order to obtain certain information, input, or perspectives when conducting the community participation process in the AFFH Rule Guidebook. HUD will evaluate whether this guidance should be expanded in the future to include a list of statekholders the program participants should consult. Additionally, HUD notes that when conducting community participation, PHAs, and all program participants, must comply with the fair housing and civil rights requirements specified at 24 CFR 5.158, and encourages program participants to consider all audiences, especially those who may be impacted by their planning documents and who may not have had prior opportunities to share their feedback with the PHAs. Waiting lists concerns. Commenters stated that most, if not all, housing authority developments exist in impacted areas so any waiting list applicant could be greatly impacted. The commenters opposed inclusion of data from families on the waiting list in completing the AFH since this information has not been verified and is limited, so it’s difficult to make assumptions about any relevant factors related to the AFH. Commenters stated that some data is available for individuals on the waiting list, but commenter questions the relevancy as those on the list may need to wait years and circumstances may change. HUD should clarify the purpose it feels this serves. Other commenters stated that applicants apply for housing based on their desire to live in a specific area for a number of reasons, and data collected from the waiting list may not give all the needed information to provide an accurate analysis for fair housing. Another commenter stated that PHAs do not have historic waiting list data (data beyond the record retention period). The commenter stated that PHAs have data on households on waiting lists that include household members, disability status, student status, race, and ethnicity, and that waiting list household data is self-reported and not verified by PHA staff. A commenter stated that a PHA operates with multiple waiting lists, and that PHAs do not treat waiting list’s data uniformly and have different amounts of information and may verify at different times. A commenter stated that it does not believe that analyzing individuals on the waiting list will yield useful PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64485 information in fair housing planning because the demand for affordable and federally assisted housing far exceeds the supply, and families may be unable to move for reasons other than the PHAs action or inaction. Another commenter stated that certain types of tenant selection and waiting list management policies can have a discriminatory impact on persons in protected classes by making it more difficult for out-oftown families to gain admission or by creating barriers to people with disabilities. A commenter stated that if the tool is going to seek information on waiting lists, it should ask: If the PHA requires in-person applications at the PHA office or if applications can be obtained by mail or online or at multiple locations; if applications only accepted online, if the PHA uses a firstcome first-served waiting list, or a lottery to determine placement on the waitlist; if the PHA keeps the waitlist open for a long enough time to permit applicants from outside the service area to apply; if the PHA applies any local preferences for program admission, and, if so, to describe; and how the PHA makes information available to people with limited English proficiency, and what accommodations it makes for people with disabilities. HUD Response: HUD understands the limitations with respect to the information PHAs may have regarding the demographics of those individuals or households on the PHA’s waiting list, and HUD has removed language related to this as a result of the commenters’ suggestions. However, HUD notes that this information would be considered local data and local knowledge for purposes of conducting the AFH, and that information would have to meet the criteria set forth in 24 CFR 5.152 and the instructions to the Assessment Tool in order for its use to be required. Further, HUD notes that information about the PHA’s waiting list may be provided as part of the community participation process. HUD appreciates the recommendations relating to information that should be sought with respect to waiting lists. While HUD is still requiring this analysis in parts of the Assessment Tool, HUD has reduced the number of questions that ask for analysis of the PHA’s waiting list. Specifically, HUD has removed the waiting list references in the policy questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section. HUD will continue to consider whether additions of these sorts of questions to the Assessment Tool would be beneficial for conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis of the PHA’s service area and region. E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 64486 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices Suggestions for analyzing disparities in access to opportunity. Commenters offered several suggestions to the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section. With respect to Education, commenters stated that HUD should provide a clearer explanation of what the School Proficiency Index, stating that the AFFH data documentation fails to mention protected characteristics with respect to the School Proficiency index, so the relationship between it and the protected class status is left unclear. A commenter stated that HUD should define ‘‘attendance areas’’ and briefly explain how attendance areas are determined in the instructions, and that any explanation concerning the School Proficiency Index should differentiate between proximity to proficient schools and actual access to proficient schools. The commenter stated that the index has serious limitations since it is determined only by the performance of 4th grade students on state exams and, in some cases, in schools that are only within 1.5 miles of where individuals in protected groups are located. Another commenter stated that question iii(1)(a)(iii) should not be limited to prompting discussion about access to proficient schools by protected class members who are public housing residents, voucher tenants, and families families on the waiting lists for these programs for these programs, but instead should ask about those who still experience disparities in educational outcomes, such as graduation rates, test scores, and other performance measures. The commenter stated that instructions should specifically ask about disparities in educational outcomes for students who attend proficient schools. With respect to employment, a commenter stated that the tool should ask PHAs to describe actions complying with Section 3 obligations and a description, if appropriate, of planned efforts to overcome underperformance. Another commenter stated that the job proximity index does not take into account the skill level needed for jobs or the jobs that are actually available so therefore just because individuals in a protected group may live in area close to jobs, it does not necessarily mean that they have better access to job opportunities. The commenter stated that HUD should find a means by which to measure other forms of human capital, such as prior job experience, skills, or training. With respect to transportation, a commenter stated that it is unclear how the low transportation cost and transit trips indices provide information on access to transportation by protected groups because of several factors VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 including the absence of key maps (such as a map of residency patterns of protected groups overlaid by shading showing transportation access at the neighborhood level) and a lack of clarity on what the low transportation cost index measures. The commenter stated that the two variables from the instructions (low transportation cost index measures the ‘‘cost of transport and proximity to public transportation by neighborhood’’) seem different from each other because it’s possible for individuals have relatively low transportation costs (higher score) and no proximity to public transit (lower score), as when there is no public transit available and people drive short distances to work. The commenter asked that, in these situations, how one index score can measure two variables that can be very different from each other. The commenter stated that since the transit index scores only measures the frequency of transit use, these scores do not measure transportation access. Another commenter stated that in the transportation opportunities section, the language ‘‘connection between place of residence and opportunities’’ should be restored, since access to transit alone is not enough if it does not connect residents to opportunities. With respect to access to low poverty neighborhoods, a commenter stated that there are limitations to the low poverty index because the calculation method compares national and tract-level data, making it unsuitable for judging the relative position of a tract in a city or region. The commenter stated that the instructions refer to a Question (1)(d)(iv) that does not exist. With respect to access to environmentally healthy neighborhoods, a commenter stated that this data is limited since it only covers air toxins, is outdated, and according to the EPA, is only valid for large geographic areas, like regions and States. Another commenter stated that in the access to environmentally healthy neighborhoods section, there should be a specific question about the access of families in PHA programs to environmentally healthy neighborhoods and whether they are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards and undesirable land uses. PHAs should be required to discuss indicators of environmental health based on local data and knowledge because it is not burdensome to acquire. Another commenter stated that limiting the required analysis of environmental hazards to the air quality data provided by HUD renders the analysis incomplete and misleading, and participants must be required to analyze other indicators PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 from local data. The commenter presented three specific examples within the State of Texas to illustrate this point. The commenter stated that vulnerability to the effects of a natural disaster should also be considered as part of the environmental hazards assessment. HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the suggestions related to the data on disparities in access to opportunity, and in response to these comments, HUD no longer requires that such indices be reviewed by PHAs, although they may choose to refer to the indices. HUD also recognizes that the data provided has certain limitations, which are explained in the instructions to the Assessment Tool, the AFFH Rule Guidebook, and the Data Documentation, available at https://www.hudexchange.info/ resource/4848/affh-datadocumentation/. HUD has rewritten the questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity Section to more specifically address the HUD provided data that will offer the most utility in conducting this analysis, specifically the HUD-provided maps. While the opportunity indices will still be available for PHAs to use, only the maps are now required to be analyzed to complete this analysis. Through using the maps, PHAs can see where areas of opportunity are for the various opportunity categories and how they relate to their residents by protected class groups (race/ethnicity, national origin, families with children). Addtionally, HUD has changed the policy related questions to emphasize that PHAs’ analysis will rely on community participation, any consultation with other relevant government agencies, and the PHA’s own local data and local knowledge. HUD encourages program participants to use local data and local knowledge to supplement the HUD-provided data where such information meets the criteria set forth at 24 CFR 5.152 and in the instructions to the Assessment Tool. HUD will continue to evaluate whether it is feasible to provide additional or other data with respect to disparities in access to opportunity in manner that would be nationally uniform and facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis. With respect to the suggestion to include a question about educational outcomes for students who attend proficient schools, HUD believes that while this is an important analysis to undertake, it is beyond the scope of the Assessment of Fair Housing. HUD, however, encourages program participants who wish to include such information in their analysis to do so. E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices HUD has also re-phrased the question in the transportation section of the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section of the Assessment Tool raised by the commenters. That question now asks, ‘‘For the protected class group(s) HUD has provided data, describe how disparities in access to transportation relate to residential living patterns.’’ HUD also appreciates the commenters concerns about the environmental health index’s limitations. In order to provide for a more robust assessment relating to access to environmentally healthy neighborhoods without imposing additional burden on program participants, HUD has included additional contributing factors for consideration, such as ‘‘access to safe, affordable drinking water’’ and ‘‘access to sanitation services.’’ HUD encourages program participants to include other relevant environmental hazards in their analysis or in identifying contributing factors. Comments on Publicly Supported Housing. Commenters stated that in the section on ‘‘Other Publicly Supported Housing Programs’’ there should be a question or data reporting opportunity that looks at the overall concentration of assisted housing in particular neighborhoods. Other commenters stated that the Publicly Supported Housing Analysis section emphasizes questions concerning the location and occupancy of publicly supported housing, with limited questions about access to opportunity by residents, and no questions about disproportionate housing needs specific to the context of publicly supported housing. Another commenter stated that this section should ask about access to community assets (including proficient schools, transportation, employment, social services, green space, job training, and community centers) by residents of public housing, such as amenities within and in close proximity to publicly supported housing developments. Another commenter stated that this section does not touch on issues such as access to supportive or other services by residents of publicly supported housing. The commenter stated that currently, PHAs would put this information in the ‘‘Additional Information’’ section but featuring such questions more prominently is likely to get the it thinking about the ways in which the PHA and other publicly supported housing in the PHA’s service area and region are themselves providing access to opportunity via promoting access to community assets and other necessary services. Another commenter stated that under the Publicly Supported Housing Analysis, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 the tool should ask how many individuals are turned away from public housing because of prior evictions and how many of these prior evictions are due to non-payment of rent or other factors that are not indicative of relevant qualifications. HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions from commenters, and will consider improved ways to structure this section that will solicit the appropriate level of information from PHAs and is the least burdensome. Also, since PHAs must conduct an analysis of disparities in access to opportunity and disproportionate housing needs in prior sections of the Assessment Tool, HUD did not want to add duplication of effort to the publicly supported housing section. HUD also notes that information relating to prior evictions, non-payment of rent, or other qualifications relating to admissions and occupancy policies of PHAs are assessed through the contributing factor of ‘‘admissions and occupancy policies and procedures, including preferences in publicly supported housing.’’ HUD also notes that information relating to whether eligible individuals or households are able to access publicly supported housing could be obtained through the community participation process. Comments on Public Housing Agency Program. A commenter stated that in the section on ‘‘Public Housing Agency Program Analysis’’, PHAs should be asked whether tenants in RAD developments have been informed about their choice/mobility rights, and whether the PHA has offered tenants any assistance in making moves to lower-poverty areas. Another commenter stated that the location of project-based voucher developments should be analyzed separately from the location of tenant-based vouchers because of important fair housing issues related to site selection of PBVs. The commenter stated that the simplest approach would define the ‘‘PHA’s developments’’ to include developments where the PHA has project-based vouchers in addition to properties the PHA owns. The commenter stated that this can be incorporated in Part D(1)(b)(i) on pg. 9 of the tool and the explanation of Publicly Supported Housing Analysis beginning on page 27 should also include specific references to PBVs. A commenter stated that PHAs should be asked to evaluate their programs in terms of addressing sexual harassment, related to domestic violence, and the location of senior and family housing developments and demographics of these developments. Another PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64487 commenter stated that even though sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status are not unequivocally covered by the Fair Housing Act, they are protected from discrimination in HUD’s Final Rule on Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, so PHAs should be required to analyze barriers to fair housing choice affecting these populations. A commenter stated that PHAs should be required to do an analysis of their policies and procedures regarding persons re-entering from the criminal justice system, to evaluate the condition and maintenance needs of its properties by geographic area and demographics of each property, and to analyze their homeownership programs as well as their rental programs. HUD Response: HUD appreciates the recommendation regarding mobility and RAD, and will consider whether they are appropriate to the analysis, while also considering the level of burden in completing the AFH. HUD also appreciates these comments and agrees with the commenter that an assessment of a PHA’s programs in terms of addressing sexual harassment, related to domestic violence, and the location of senior and family housing, including the demographics of those developments is critical when conducting a fair housing analysis. HUD has added the contributing factors of ‘‘involuntary displacement of survivors of domestic violence,’’ ‘‘nuisance laws,’’ and ‘‘lack of safe, affordable housing options for survivors of domestic violence.’’ Additionally, HUD notes that some of the HUD-provided data includes the demographics of families with children and elderly households in certain types of assisted housing. Comments on Fair Housing, Enforcement, Outreach Capacity and Resources Analysis. In the section on ‘‘Fair Housing Enforcement, Outreach Capacity, and Resources Analysis’’ the reporting of fair housing complaints and investigations should include any consent decrees, settlement agreements, or Voluntary Compliance Agreements that are still in effect. Another commenter stated that under Fair Housing compliance and infrastructure, include questions on enforcement of discrimination against victims of domestic violence under VAWA. Another commenter stated that Question (c)(v) of the Fair Housing Analysis of Rental Housing subsection should acknowledge the risk of losing access to opportunity for other publicly supported housing residents besides HCV households. The commenter stated that this question should also include a prompt that acknowledges the risk of E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 64488 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices losing access to opportunity through unwanted displacement. The commenter stated that a third prompt should read, ‘‘Are at risk of losing affordable rental housing units, including a landlord’s choice to end participation in the Housing Choice Voucher program, or loss of affordability restrictions in other publicly supported housing programs (e.g., opting-out from a project-based Section 8 contract).’’ A commenter stated that HUD should require the PHA to briefly explain its efforts to comply with HUD’s LEP guidance and to otherwise provide meaningful access to LEP populations. The commenter stated that this section should include questions that ask the PHA to briefly explain its efforts to serve domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, including steps it has taken to comply with VAWA. HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for these recommendations. HUD notes that the question relating to civil rights compliance does include consent decrees, settlement agreements, or voluntary compliance agreements that are still in effect. HUD declines to add enforcement against discrimination against victims of domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act to this section, but notes that it has added certain contributing factors to prior sections of the Assessment Tool, as noted above. HUD has also added the contributing factor of ‘‘Lack of meaningful language access’’ to the publicly supported housing section of the Assessment Tool to allow PHAs to assess their efforts to comply with HUD’s LEP guidance and their efforts to provide meaningful access to LEP populations. Comments on disproportionate housing needs. Commenters stated that the section on disproportionate housing needs should include data and analysis on the population of people experiencing homelessness that are currently un-housed. A commenter stated that specifically reference the commitments the US made during the Universal Periodic Review to invest further efforts in addressing the root causes of racial incidents and expand its capacity in reducing poverty in neighborhoods experiencing subpar services and amend laws that criminalize homelessness that are not in conformity with international human rights. Another commenter stated that under disproportionate housing needs the tool should ask for a description about laws that may impact victims of domestic violence. A commenter suggests that PHAs can use information regarding survivors that they are already required to report under federal and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 local laws, since VAWA mandates that PHAs are required to include address the housing needs of survivors in their planning documents. A commenter stated that when discussing affordability of housing units in the definitions section and throughout, it is important to clarify that it is not enough to have units that are affordable at 80% area median income or other moderate incomes. HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments. HUD has added the contributing factor ‘‘Access to public space for people experiencing homelessness’’ to the disproportionate housing needs section. HUD will continue to evaluate the feasibility of providing data on homelessness such that it will facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis. As previously stated in this Notice, HUD has added three contributing factors relating to victims of domestic violence. HUD notes that certain data it is providing include demographic data based on income eligibility for certain HUD assisted housing, and those data are provided for 30%, 50%, and 80% AMI income levels. Comments on Instructions. A few commenters stated the instructions that accompany the tool are adequate, but other commenters stated that the instructions are not effective as there are over 2 pages of instructions per page of the tool and they are repetitive and internally inconsistent. The commenters offered, as an example, that HUD quotes regulatory language concerning the character of acceptable local data without providing guidance on the standards HUD will use to determine its statistical validity or an objective standard. The commenters stated that the instructions are also hard to navigate and it is time consuming. Commenters offered various wording changes for specific instructions, but many commenters stated that what would be most helpful is for HUD to provide examples. Commenters stated that the instructions should offer examples of likely sources of local knowledge important to residents, such as university studies and experiences of advocacy organizations, service providers, school districts, and health departments. Commenters stated that the instructions should provide examples of local knowledge such as efforts to preserve publicly-supported housing, community-based revitalization efforts, public housing Section 18 demolition or disposition application proposals, RAD conversion proposals, transit-oriented development plans, major redevelopment plans, comprehensive planning or zoning PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 updates, source of income ordinance campaigns, and inclusive provision campaigns. Other commenters stated that the instructions should provide examples of real strategies that PHAs could employ to obtain the information necessary to answer the questions that require the use of local data and should draw connections between a specific opportunity indicator and the PHA where a particular indicator intersects with existing PHA operations. A commenter stated that would be most helpful is for thud to provide a complete sample AFH to show the level of analysis required. Another commenter stated that the instructions should provide clear guidance on how PHAs should read the tables with indices that are organized by protected group. A commenter stated that a shorter pamphlet that explains the difference between the tools and provides links to other sources of information would be useful. HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their feedback. HUD has provided additional clarifying language to the instructions with respect to the use of local data and local knowledge. HUD also understands the difficulty with the format of the Assessment Tool and the instructions coming at the end. HUD notes that it intends to provide PHAs, as it has done for Local Governments, with an online portal (User Interface) that will allow for electronic submissions and will provide the instructions for each question immediately before the question itself. HUD anticipates that this format will be more user-friendly for PHAs. HUD declines to provide additional examples of local data and local knowledge in the instructions at this time, but notes that examples are provided in the AFFH Rule Guidebook. The AFFH Rule Guidebook also offers guidance relating to the community participation process and may be useful to PHAs in soliciting views relating to the issues commenters raised above. HUD also notes that it will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training, as needed and appropriate with respect to the use of HUD-provided data in order to build capacity of PHAs so that they may conduct a meaningful fair housing analysis. QPHA Collaboration. Commenters stated that, in reviewing the goal of the assessment tool, the collaborating organizations need current data to enable them to fairly assess the data and provide a good plan in addressing the need for housing in areas of opportunity. A commenter stated that it believes small agencies will find collaboration generally the most E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices acceptable way to fulfill their AFH responsibilities although still notes the complexity and lack of current information. Another commenter stated that it plans to collaborate with the local government in submitting its tool so the collaborating organizations can plan and implement a comprehensive approach to fair housing. The commenter stated that since the PHA has no jurisdiction over certain conditions in the municipality, such as transportation and education, in the absence of a partnership a PHA would be limited in its ability to conduct meaningful fair housing planning. Another commenter stated that it believes that most PHAs will collaborate with local governments because they are most likely to have had pre-existing relationships with PHAs. A commenter stated that it does not intend to submit a joint AFH, but that it will work with entities including the state Department of Housing and Community Development, local governments, and PHAs in the sharing of data resources and local knowledge. Another commenter stated that some of its PHA members would not be collaborating with other entities at all. The commenter stated that they are concerned about problems such as fear of free riders, the prospect of one entity slowing down the entire collaborative process, and the difficulty of collaborating in some rural areas where the entities may not be geographically proximate. Another commenter stated that it would take at least an additional 33 percent of the estimated time to complete an AFH for collaborative efforts. The commenter stated that HUD should account for the fact that if a PHA determines that it makes the most sense to complete the PHA tool on their own, they will still be expected to participate in their local jurisdiction’s AFH for aspects related to PHA-specific issues which adds to the administrative hours. HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their views related to QPHA collaboration. HUD also appreciates the commenter sharing that it will work with entities including the state Department of Housing and Community Development, local governments, and PHAs despite not collaborating with another program participant. However, HUD maintains its position and encourages collaboration to the extent practicable. In fact, HUD has provided a sample agreement in the AFFH Guidebook that includes language stipulating what each entity will be responsible for, which may alleviate any confusion or lack of contributions within the collaboration. Facilitating QPHA Collaboration. A commenter stated that HUD should do VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 more to encourage PHAs to prepare joint AFHs by providing clearer guidance, incentives, and funding. The commenters stated that, in particular, HUD should clarify which PHAs should complete an AFH on their own and which PHAs should submit jointly with other neighboring PHAs or local government entities. The commenters stated that, for example, a PHA with less than 250 units who participates in a joint AFH might be eligible for additional technical assistance, time, and the ability to sync their PHA plan with neighboring PHAs to encourage cooperation and joint strategies. Another commenter stated that HUD staff would have to review and accept in a timely manner 3,153 PHAs’ AFHs and over 1,200 local jurisdictions’ AFHs, so having PHAs submit joint AFHs will assist HUD in reviewing them. A commenter stated that increased data flexibility and integration across tables and maps would support individual and joint PHA analysis. Another commenter stated that it is the coordinating State agency for CPD formula HUD funding in the State and anticipates completing the AFH using the tool for States. The commenter stated that it is also a PHA and as a PHA it exceeds to the voucher limit noted in the rule for being a QPHA eligible for collaboration with the state. The commenter stated that in the event that the State would like to have its tool serve as a collaborative submission inclusive of itself as a PHA, it is not clear that this is possible. The definition of QHPA should be clarified to denote that states that are, themselves, PHAs are included as QPHAs regardless of voucher volume and are able to be collaboratively included in the state tool if the state desires in order to avoid a duplication of effort. A commenter stated that HUD should incentivize collaboration by providing more resources and more time to complete a full assessment when collaborating with other entities. Another commenter stated that the most important issue here is the divergence of questions between the PHA Assessment Tool and the Local Government Assessment Tool. The commenter stated that if there is a proposed collaboration between a PHA or PHAs and a local jurisdiction, it should be made clear that the cumulative questions in both AFHs should be applied to the collaboration, so that key information is not omitted based on which entity is the ‘‘lead.’’ The commenter stated that an easy way to accomplish this would be a new AFH collaborative tool that incorporates all of the questions and data in both the PHA PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64489 and local jurisdiction tools. Another commenter stated that a new collaborative tool will be useful and suggests that HUD should make it clear that all questions from the PHA Assessment Tool and the Local Government Assessment Tool must be answered in a collaborative AFH, but also that each entity does not have to do a separate analysis when questions are duplicative. HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the commenters’ suggestions regarding how to best facilitate QPHA collaboration. HUD is not able to direct certain types of program participants to collaborate on an AFH, as the regulation, at 24 CFR 5.156, makes clear that such collaboration is entirely voluntary. HUD also clarifies that the use of the Assessment Tool for PHAs is meant for use by PHAs conducting and submitting an AFH alone or with other PHAs, including QPHAs. The Assessment Tool for Local Governments is intended for use by local governments conducting and submitting an AFH alone, or with other local governments, or with PHAs, including QPHAs. Finally, the Assessment Tool for States and Insular Areas is intended for use by States or Insular Areas conducting and submitting an AFH alone, with local QPHAs partnering with the State, with local governments that received a CDGB grant of $500,000 or less in the most recent fiscal year prior to the due date for the joint or regional AFH in a collaboration with the State, or with HOME consortia whose members collectively received less than $500,000 in CDBG funds or received no CDBG funding that partners with the State. HUD will continue to explore ways to facilitate meaningful collaborations among all types of program participants. The questions in each of those Assessment Tools are specifically designed to include the required analysis for each type of program participant, should that type of collaboration occur. HUD has also committed to issuing an Assessment Tool for QPHAs that choose to conduct and submit an AFH individually, or as part of a collaobartion with other QPHAs. At this time, HUD is not able to offer specific incentives to entities that choose to collaborate, but notes that doing so could provide for burden and cost reduction when completing an AFH. Additionally, collaboration could result in more robust goals to tackle the fair housing issues affecting the jurisdictions and regions of all program participants in the collaboration. E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 64490 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Specific Issues for Comment 1—Content of the Assessment Tool 1a. Does the structure of adding a specific focus on PHA programs better facilitate the fair housing analysis PHAs must conduct, or should these questions be combined with the ‘‘Other Publicly Supported Housing Programs’’ subsection, using the structure that was similar to the Local Government Assessment Tool? Several commenters stated that the two new subsections in the tool would provide better data for accurately identifying fair housing need within the PHA’s county. The commenters stated that PHAs have the knowledge within their agencies to provide data on program operations, development, and assisted residents within their jurisdiction. The commenters also stated that information would definitely benefit the overall fair housing analysis. The commenters also stated that the tool should be as detailed as possible because it will be the working template and ultimate document that PHAs, residents, and advocates will be working with on a frequent, operational basis. The commenters stated that the assessment tool, along with detailed guidance, providing direction echoing the final rule would minimize the need for stakeholders to toggle between the final rule, guidance, and the tool. A commenter agreed with these commenters and stated that many of the questions should also be included in the local government tool. A commenter stated that the tool does a good job focusing on all aspects of housing in a community, taking into account issues of segregation, concentrated areas of poverty, opportunity areas, transportation, health, education, disability services, and more. The commenter stated that while some items do not apply to its location and other items could be added, the tool overall is successfully arranged and allows for the input of local information, recognizing that not every community is the same. The commenter stated that assessment completed well and completely will be a meaningful document that PHAs can use to AFFH in their communities. Another commenter expressed agreement with HUD’s decision to include separate subsections because these programs raise different fair housing issues. The commenter stated that a PHA has considerable discretion in public housing admissions while its role as administrator of the Section 8 program limits its ability to affect private owner’s rentals. The commenter stated that, although a PHA may urge VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 voucher holders to see housing in areas of opportunity, it cannot ordinarily compel a private owner to rent to a voucher holder, so it is important to assess both of these programs separately from a fair housing planning perspective. Other commenters stated that there is significant overlap in the questions asked in these sections and HUD should revaluate both and consider condensing into one. One of the commenters stated that HUD must not add questions to the tool but should instead remove questions that are irrelevant to PHA’s authorities, jurisdictions, and capacities, and streamline the tool. HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments relating to whether the PHA’s program should be analyzed separately from the other publicly supported housing programs included in the Assessment Tool. At this time, HUD has decided to keep these two subsections separate to best facilitate the analysis for PHAs with respect to their programs. Additionally, HUD notes that in order to set appropriate and meaningful fair housing goal, PHAs must assess issues over which they may not have control in order to fully understand what fair housing issues are present, what contributing factors are present, and how the PHA can best overcome them. 1b. Will conducting the new ‘‘Fair Housing Analysis of Rental Housing’’ for all PHAs result in a more robust analysis of fair housing in the PHA’s service area and region, even for PHAs that only administer public housing? Should this section only apply to PHAs that administer HCVs? Commenters stated that a small PHA that has only an HCV program will not benefit from the tool and will not ultimately provide better services/ opportunities for low-income families. A commenter stated that one of the most significant barriers to affirmatively furthering fair housing is the Fair Market Rent (FMR) system in which HUD’s FMR is defined as the dollar amount below which 40 percent of the standard-quality rental housing units are rented in an area. The commenter stated that by definition, this limits the areas where HCV participants can move and confines them to areas where there may be fewer standard-quality rental housing. Another commenter stated that for PHAs operating public housing only their properties are where they are and were sited with HUD approval. The commenter stated that until federal resources become available for development or recapitalization of deeply affordable housing, a robust analysis will have no outcomes of PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 interest. The commenter stated that PHAs may already have deep knowledge of the rental housing in their communities although a PHA may not meet HUD’s data standards or formats. The commenter stated that HUD already has knowledge of Federally supported assisted housing properties. A commenter agrees since PHAs that only administer public housing have only fixed units so the utility of doing an analysis of the surrounding renal market is negligible. Other commenters stated that to better define and provide accurate information for a Fair Housing Analysis of Rental Housing in a PHA’s service area, there should be data collection for both public housing and HCV. The commenters stated that, in some cases, the PHA administers both programs with the HCV units outnumbering PH units, and that HCVs can be used anywhere within the jurisdiction of the county and by analyzing both programs, the data will show where is a need to increase fair housing opportunities. The commenters stated that requiring PHAs that only administer public housing to complete this is consistent with other sections of the AFH that may not directly relate to public housing specifically, doing so is informative to the rest of the analysis and may further inform identification of contributing factors, and asking these PHAs to answer five additional questions is not an undue burden. Another commenter stated that the request to ‘‘describe how rental housing, including affordable rental housing in the service area and region, has changed over time’’ in this section should be removed since the utility gained is marginal. The commenter stated that change in affordable rental housing over time is not nearly as important as the current status of the market and location of rental housing, and the time spent answering this question will be excessive. HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments related to the fair housing analysis of rental housing subsection. HUD has decided that the section will apply only to PHAs that administer Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. HUD will continue to consider comments and suggestions for improving this section of the analysis that was intended to be tailored specifically to inform PHA program operations. 1c. Has HUD identified the most relevant contributing factors for PHAs for purposes of conducting a fair housing assessment and setting fair housing goals and priorities? Several commenters affirmed that HUD had identified the relevant E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices contributing factors for PHAs. A commenter stated that it ‘‘firmly believes the new contributing factors added by HUD for the fair housing analysis are excellent.’’ Another commenter stated that these are the main questions that need to be answered as to why housing options can be limited for voucher holders and the need to expand housing options to lowincome people. A commenter recommended adding the following contributing factors to ensure PHAs consider the same major barriers to opportunity for people with disabilities as for other protected classes: Community opposition; Location and type of affordable housing; Occupancy codes and restrictions; Private discrimination; Access to financial services; Access to federally qualified health clinics and other healthcare settings often used by lowincome individuals; Availability, type, frequency and reliability of public transportation; Lack of state, regional or other intergovernmental cooperation; Admissions and occupancy policies and procedures including preferences in publicly supported housing; Impediments to mobility; Lack of private investment in specific areas within the State; Lack of public investment in specific areas within the State including services and amenities; Siting selection policies, practices and decisions for publicly supported housing; Source of income discrimination; Access to schools that are accessible to students and parents with disabilities and proficient in educating students with disabilities in integrated classrooms; Access to employment opportunities; Access to low poverty areas; Access to environmentally healthy areas within the PHA. Another commenter expressed concern that the contributing factor in Section 7 regarding access to proficient schools for persons with disabilities will be interpreted to refer to segregated schools for individuals with disabilities, and suggests it be revised to read: Access to schools that are accessible to students and parents with disabilities and proficient in educating students with disabilities in integrated classrooms. The commenter stated that for each set of CFs, add ‘‘local governments or the state unwilling to promote source of income legislation, or poor enforcement where source of income ordinances exist.’’ The commenter further made the following recommendations: For the segregation and R/ECAP CFs, add: Impediments to mobility, impediments to portability, policies related to payment standards, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 FMR, and rent subsidies; for ‘‘Publicly Supported Housing’’ add: ‘‘past and present’’ to the site selection factor after asking for ‘‘policies, practices, and decisions,’’ and ‘‘displacement of residents due to economic pressures, causing landlords to exit the HCV or Section 8 Programs.’’ Another commenter stated that it believes the new contributing factors (such as restriction on landlords accepting vouchers, impediments to portability, policies related to payment standards, FMR, rent subsidies, etc.) in the Publicly Supported Housing section are appropriate because they are related to housing. The commenter stated that HUD should add ‘‘complexity of federal regulations’’ as a contributing factor since this one of the primary reasons that many landlords do not participate in the HCV program. The commenter stated that PHAs should be asked directly the extent to which they are contributing to segregation and concentration of poverty in the service area and region (in the initial CF section on page 3), even though PHAs are already required to do this to truthfully certify that they are eligible for federal funds. The commenter stated that HUD should require analysis of data and certain types of laws and policies that impact homeless and high need populations as part of the factors that contribute to segregation/integration, R/ECAPs, disparities in access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs because these laws and policies that criminalize homelessness and zoning or other regulatory laws facilitate segregation. The commenter further recommended the following: ‘‘Access to public space for people experiencing homelessness’’ should be added as a contributing factor; HUD should create a factor that mirrors ‘‘regulatory barriers to providing housing and supportive services for persons with disabilities’’ to address laws that restrict or allow provision of services to persons experiencing homelessness; add ‘‘nuisance laws’’; add ‘‘reliance on eviction history to make acceptance decisions.’’ A commenter stated that contributing factors should be modified so they are more closely tied to an analysis that is relevant for PHAs. The commenter stated that the reference to vouchers in the community opposition should be expanded to include opposition to proposed measures to prohibit source of income discrimination. The commenter stated that the description for ‘‘lack of regional cooperation’’ should reference any existing failure among PHAs within a region to cooperate in facilitating the PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64491 portability of HCV holders who seek to relocate from the jurisdiction of one PHA to another, or the ‘‘impediments to mobility’’ and to ‘‘portability’’ should be included in the sections focusing on R/ECAPs, segregation, and disproportionate housing needs. The commenter further stated that the ‘‘location and type of affordable housing’’ description should reference the location of HCV households. A commenter stated that impediments to portability should include reference to the fact that family members can be terminated from the voucher program upon moving to a new jurisdiction based on a member’s criminal history record. The commenter recommended that HUD should add, ‘‘policies related to payment standards, FMR, and rent subsidies’’ for both segregation and R/ECAPs. The commenter stated that the description of this contributing factor should include reference to PHA policies and practices regarding rent reasonableness determinations in the context of the Voucher program. The commenter requested that the ‘‘restrictions on landlords accepting vouchers’’ contributing factors should be re-named ‘‘Barriers imposed upon Landlords who wish to rent to Voucher holders.’’ Another commenter expressed support for the addition of the three new contributing factors in disparities in access to opportunity. The commenter stated that low FMRs and payment standards in costly rental markets can prohibit mobility and portability so this should be reflected in the definitions of ‘‘impediments to portability and ‘‘policies related to payment standards, FMR, and rent subsidies.’’ The commenter made the following recommendations: That HUD add to the disparities in access to opportunity contributing factors— source of income discrimination, lack of job training programs, and lack of affordable childcare; HUD add to the disproportionate housing needs contributing factors—involuntary displacement of survivors of domestic violence, source of income discrimination, high housing costs on the private market, and policies related to payment standards, FMR and rent subsidies; for the disabilities and access section, add ‘‘failure to provide reasonable accommodations as a new contributing factor with its own description instead of just referenced in the ‘‘private discrimination’’ factor; add the following possible contributing factors to the Publicly Supported Housing Analysis section: (1) Lack of meaningful language access; (2) Discrimination against LGBT E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 64492 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices individuals and families; (3) Lack of safe, affordable housing options for survivors of domestic violence; and (4) Displacement of residents due to economic pressures (existing contributing factor appearing in other analysis sections of the Draft PHA Tool). The commenter stated that the description for the contributing factor ‘‘Land Use and Zoning laws’’ lists inclusionary zoning alongside policies which can be used to limit housing choice which is confusing, so it should read ‘‘lack of inclusionary zoning practices’’ instead. Several commenters stated that the contributing factors analysis should be removed from the tool. The commenters stated that it is not possible to answer these questions with statistical validity on the relationship between possible contributing factors and the impact on fair housing issues. They said that this will result in highly speculative and subjective answers. Another commenter suggested leaving this for local governments instead of PHAs. The commenter stated that PHAs have no influence on local zoning or planning policies. A commenter stated that unless the PHA works in collaboration with a municipal or state partner, analyzing these factors may be of limited utility. Another commenter stated that the tool should only suggest contributing factors that are housing-related because other ones are outside of the PHA’s expertise. HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the commenters’ recommendations relating to contributing factors. HUD has added several new contributing factors, ‘‘lack of public and private investment in specific neighborhoods’’ (previously two separate factors, and includes access to santition services, among others), ‘‘nuisance laws,’’ ‘‘lack of meaningful language access,’’ ‘‘lack of access to opportunity due to high housing costs’’ and ‘‘lack of job training programs’’.’’ HUD has also included certain contributing factors that were previously listed in other sections of the Assessment Tool in the Disability and Access section. HUD has added to some of the existing descriptions of contributing factors, including language related to homelessness, domestic violence, environmental health (i.e., safe and clean drinking water) lack of source of income protections, and FMRs or other payment standards. HUD again notes that in order to best understand the fair housing issues affecting the PHA’s service area and region, PHAs must take a holistic approach in analyzing their fair housing landscape in order to set appropriate goals that will allow the PHA to take meaningful actions that affirmatively VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 further fair housing. This approach includes the identification of contributing factors that are creating, contributing to, perpetuating, or increasing the severity of one or more fair housing issues in the PHA’s service area and region. HUD acknowledges that PHAs may not be able to overcome all contributing factors due to their limited scope of operations and resources; however, PHAs must still have an understanding of those contributing factors in order to set goals for overcoming the related fair housing issues. 1d. Does the reordering of the sections, so that Disability and Access comes before the analysis of Publicly Supported Housing better facilitate the PHA’s fair housing analysis? A commenter stated that by reordering the sections so that Disability and Access comes before the analysis of Publicly Supported Housing, it will benefit HUD to show where this type of housing is needed and if the PHA’s provide sufficient housing options for the disabled population, but another commenter expressed a firm no to this question. Another commenter stated that HUD needs to add additional questions to the Disability and Access section of the Tool to facilitate the PHA’s fair housing analysis. The commenter stated that HUD regulations at 24 CFR part 8 require programmatic access to HUD assisted housing and 24 CFR 8.25(c) requires PHAs to assess the need for accessible units. The commenter stated that HUD should add questions to ascertain that the PHA has met the specific requirements of these sections, including asking related to whether data provided by HUD indicates that people with disabilities have equal access to PHA programs, whether the PHA completed a needs assessment and transition plan, whether the PHA has a written accommodation policy, whether the PHA makes its application process accessible, whether the PHA encourages participation by owners, whether PHAs provide a list of accessible units to families receiving a voucher when a family member has disabilities, and whether the PHA requires applicants who do not require the accessibility features of a unit to sign an agreement to move to a non-accessible unit when available. Other commenters stated that under the Integration of Persons with Disabilities Living in Institutions and Other Segregated Setting section, HUD should include the following: under Question 3c, ‘‘describe any pending or settled Olmstead-related law suits, settlements or Olmstead initiatives not PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 involving litigation’’; Question C(2) should include a question about PHA compliance with the requirement to provide effective communication to persons who experience disabilities, and the question should read, ‘‘How do PHA personnel and building staff engage in effective communication with applicants and residents who experience disabilities?’’ The commenter stated that the accompanying instructions should ask the PHA to answer this question using any available local data or local knowledge, and that Question C(2) should include a question about wait list times for accessible units that are administered by the PHA, which should read as follows: Is there a wait list for units accessible to people with different types of disabilities? If so, describe the average wait times for each type of accessible unit.’’ The commenter stated that the accompanying instructions should ask the PHA to answer this question using any available local data or local knowledge. HUD Response: HUD appreciates the recommendations of the commenters related to the Disability and Access section of the Assessment Tool. Currently, HUD has left the ordering of the sections unchanged, and the Disability and Access section will continue to precede the Publicly Supported Housing section of the analysis. HUD has added two questions to the housing accessibility subsection of the Disability and Access section, which both relate to how PHAs and their staffs engage with persons with disabilities and how waiting list policies affect persons with disabilities, including preferences, program selection, placement determination, application method, length of time the application window is open, and the average wait list time. 2—Identifying PHA Service Areas 2a. HUD seeks comment on an efficient manner in which HUD could use to obtain information about each PHA’s service area without causing unnecessary burden. A commenter stated that as long as the information in the AFFH Data and Mapping Tool is kept up-to-date and is accurately tracked, the commenter believes it can provide the information without too much stress on the agency, though it cannot speak for other agencies. The commenter stated that a reduction of funding has caused stress on agencies and possible staff agencies could cause unnecessary burdens to smaller authorities. Other commenters stated that regional analysis should be E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices optional for PHAs with large service areas operating in rural areas. One of the commenters stated that PHA operates in 29 counties, sometimes in noncontiguous areas, and that, in addition, through the Project Access Program which utilizes up to 140 of the commenter’s HCVs to assist persons with disabilities who are exiting institutions or avoiding reinstitutionalization, the PHA operates outside of those 29 jurisdiction areas because individuals assisted with this program can locate outside of those areas but are generally transferred to and absorbed (‘‘ported’’) by the local PHA that does have jurisdiction for that area. Another commenter sought guidance on how a PHA whose service area is most of the state should be analyzed— for the State as a whole or for jurisdictions in which it operates. A commenter stated that regional analyses are overly burdensome and irrelevant because PHAs do not exercise influence over these broad areas, and it is even more complex for agencies outside of a core based statistical area or CBSAs or regions that cross state borders. The commenter stated that the regional analysis should be removed. A commenter stated that many PHAs operate in jurisdictions that are not equivalent to Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and that are also not identical to city or county borders. The commenter stated that, instead, these service areas are defined by State statute and are based on a variety of factors in addition to political boundaries. The commenter stated that HUD should explicitly defer to PHAs’ selection of the most relevant dataset for their needs if HUD cannot provide all of the necessary data. A commenter stated that HUD field offices should facilitate collection of this data. Another commenter stated that for agencies chartered by States, service areas correspond to jurisdictions and the alternative terminology HUD uses may be confusing. A commenter stated that HUD has indicated that it will require a single submission for agencies describing their jurisdiction. The commenter stated that it is surprising that HUD lacks a record of jurisdictions since HUD has conducted business with HAs since 1937, and these institutions may own properties subsidized by HUD and execute ACCs. A commenter stated that HUD should use its own records to establish agencies’ jurisdictions and permit PHA’s to submit any necessary corrections to those jurisdictions on an exception basis, since requiring all agencies to submit this information will VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 require almost 2 person years of time to complete, even though HUD has estimated that this task will consume 1 hour of administrative time. Commenters stated that HUD should add a section titled ‘‘Service Area’’ and ask PHAs to describe its service area using readily identifiable indicators such as geographic boundaries and the census tracts that roughly approximate the geographic boundaries. The commenters stated that PHAs should also briefly explain how State law determines the size and scope of PHA service areas with a citation to relevant legal authority under State law. The commenters stated that since there is no uniform means by which PHA service areas are determined, stakeholders who are assessing the adequacy of a PHA’s AFH would benefit from an understanding of how a specific PHA’s area is defined. Other commenters stated that HUD should ask PHAs for this information directly, separate and apart from the AFH in a uniform format the permits GIS mapping. The commenters stated that the data received through the AFH should be entered into a national database. The commenters also stated that a ‘‘service area’’ definition should also be requested in the AFH. HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the feedback it received related to how HUD could obtain information about each PHA’s service area. HUD notes that a regional analysis is required for a fair housing analysis, and therefore it cannot be made optional for PHAs. As noted above, HUD intends to provide data that PHAs will use to conduct their AFH. HUD acknowledges that PHAs’ service areas are determined by State legislation and their scope may vary. HUD does not currently have data for all PHAs’ service areas. In order to provide data to assist PHAs in conducting their AFH, HUD will need to obtain information about each PHA’s service area in order to provide relevant data to the PHA. HUD will provide an online geospatial tool, either in the existing AFFH Data and Mapping Tool (AFFHT) or in a related online web portal that will provide PHAs the ability to select from a variety of geographic units, the one unit or combination of units that most closely fits their service area. Geographic units include the most commonly used administrative geographic units mapped by the U.S. Census Bureau. These may include geographic entities such as census tracts, incorporated places or minor civil divisions (collectively known to HUD as units of general local government), entire counties, the PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 64493 balance of counties after incorporated entities have been removed, entire states, or the balance of states after incorporated local government jurisdictions have been removed. In many cases, PHA service areas will be the same as local governments that are already identified in the AFFHT, while in others PHAs would have the ability to identify their unique service area borders using the online tool. Specific solicitation of comment: HUD seeks comment on an efficient manner in which HUD could use to obtain information about each PHA’s service area without causing unnecessary burden. HUD intends to provide PHAs with additional guidance on how to analyze their service areas and regions, with respect to the scope of each at a later date. HUD is evaluating the feasibility of obtaining the geographic location of each PHA’s service area from the PHA directly, but notes that if it were to do so, would undergo the proper procedures for information collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act. HUD understands that each PHA covers a different geography and that each State’s law authorizes the PHAs’ operations differently. HUD will take this into account when obtaining the services areas of PHAs. 3—PHA Wait Lists 3a. HUD seeks comment on how fair housing issues may affect families on a PHA’s waiting list. A commenter stated that most, if not all, housing authority developments exist in impacted areas so any waiting list applicant could be greatly impacted. Another commenter opposed the inclusion of data from families on the waiting list in completing the AFH since, as the commenter stated, this information has not been verified and is limited, which, according to the commenter makes it difficult to make assumptions about any relevant factors related to the AFH. The commenter stated that some data is available for individuals on the waiting list, but questioned the relevancy as those on the list may need to wait years and circumstances may change. The commenter stated that HUD should clarify the purpose it feels this serves. Another commenter stated that it does not believe that analyzing individuals on the waiting list will yield useful information in fair housing planning because the demand for affordable and federally assisted housing far exceeds the supply and families may be unable to move for reasons other than the PHAs action or inaction. E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 64494 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices A commenter stated that certain types of tenant selection and waiting list management policies can have a discriminatory impact on persons in protected classes by making it more difficult for out of town families to gain admission or by creating barriers to people with disabilities. HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their feedback. HUD agrees that it is important to analyze waiting list policies in order to have a better understanding of their impact on fair housing. Therefore, HUD believes that an analysis of the PHA’s policies, practices, and procedures related to its application and waiting list process is necessary so that the PHA can set appropriate goals to ensure that these practices promote fair housing choice for all. 3b. Do PHAs have relevant information related to these families? To what extent to PHAs have information to inform answers to the questions related to families on PHA waiting lists? Commenters stated that applicants apply for housing based on their desire to live in a specific area for a number of reasons, and data collected from the waiting list may not give all the needed information to provide an accurate analysis for fair housing. A commenter stated that PHAs do not have historic waiting list data (data beyond the record retention period). A commenter stated that PHAs have data on households on waiting lists that include household members, disability status, student status, race, and ethnicity. Another commenter stated that a PHA program operates with multiple waiting lists. Other commenters stated that PHAs do not treat waiting list data uniformly and have different amounts of information and may verify at different times. HUD Response: HUD appreciates the information provided by these commenters and has taken it into consideration. 3c. Is HUD asking the appropriate questions with regard to this population or are there alternative considerations PHAs should be asked to consider as part of the analysis? Commenters stated that to consider alternative considerations in analyzing fair housing, a question may be needed as to where the applicant wants to live and if there is sufficient housing options in this area. Another commenter stated that any analysis should note that the waiting list household data is selfreported and not verified by PHA staff. Other commenters stated that HUD should ask if the PHA requires inperson applications at the PHA office or if applications can be obtained by mail or online or at multiple locations. The commenters stated that HUD should ask the following questions: Are applications only accepted online? Does the PHA use a first-come first served waiting list, or a lottery to determine placement on the waiting list? Does the PHA keep the waiting list open for a long enough time to permit applicants from outside the service area to apply? Are there any local preferences for program admission, and if so, please list the preferences? Is there a local residency preference? How does the PHA make information available to people with limited English proficiency, and what accommodations it makes for people with disabilities? HUD Response: HUD appreciates the feedback from these commenters. HUD notes that the contributing factor of ‘‘admissions and occupancy policies and procedures, including preferences in publicly supported housing,’’ includes many of the suggestions made by commenters above. HUD has also included a question relating to the waiting list with respect to persons with disabilities in the disability and access section of the Assessment Tool. In addition, HUD has removed references to waitlist analysis in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity Section. V. Overview of Information Collection Under the PRA, HUD is required to report the following: Title of Proposal: Assesemnt Tool for Public Housing Agencies. OMB Control Number, if applicable: N/A. Description of the need for the information and proposed use: The sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Type of respondent (lead entity or joint participant) Number of respondents Number of responses per respondent purpose of HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) final rule is to provide HUD program participants with a more effective approach to fair housing planning so that they are better able to meet their statutory duty to affirmatively further fair housing. In this regard, the final rule requires HUD program participants to conduct and submit an AFH. In the AFH, program participants must identify and evaluate fair housing issues, and factors significantly contributing to fair housing issues (contributing factors) in the program participant’s jurisdiction and region. The PHA Assessment Tool is the standardized document designed to aid PHA program participants in conducting the required assessment of fair housing issues and contributing factors and priority and goal setting. The assessment tool asks a series of questions that program participants must respond to in carrying out an assessment of fair housing issues and contributing factors, and setting meaningful fair housing goals and priorities to overcome them. Agency form numbers, if applicable: Not applicable. Members of affected public: PHAs of which there are approximately 3,942. Estimation of the total numbers of hours needed to prepare the information collection including number of respondents, frequency of response, and hours of response: HUD has made a number of revisions to its burden estimate based on both public feedback received during the 60-Day public comment period as well as a number of key changes made by HUD in response to public comment. The public reporting burden for the PHA Assessment Tool is estimated to include the time for reviewing the instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Information on the estimated public reporting burden is provided in the following table: Frequency of response Estimated average time for requirement (in hours) Estimated total burden (in hours) PHA Assessment Tool: PHA as Lead Entity ...................................... PHA as Joint Participant ............................... 814 * 400 1 1 814 ................................ 400 ................................ 240 120 195,360 48,000 Subtotal .................................................. ** 1,214 ........................ ....................................... ........................ 243,360 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 64495 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices Type of respondent (lead entity or joint participant) Number of respondents Number of responses per respondent PHA Service Area Information ............................. 3,942 1 Total Burden .......................................... ........................ ........................ Frequency of response Estimated average time for requirement (in hours) Once per Assessment of Fair Housing cycle. ....................................... Estimated total burden (in hours) 1 3,942 ........................ *** 247,302 * The estimate of 400 PHAs opting to submit AFHs acting as joint participants with other PHAs using this PHA Assessment Tool, includes an estimated 300 QPHAs and 100 Non-QPHAs. The estimate of 300 QPHAs is based on the new addition of a streamlined QPHA ‘‘insert’’ that is intended to facilitate collaboration by these small agencies. The estimate of 100 Non-QPHAs in this category is based on the likelihood of such collaborations occurring primarily in larger metropolitan areas. The latter estimate does not significantly change the overall total estimate burden. ** The total estimate of 1,214 PHAs that are assumed to use the PHA Assessment Tool is a modest decrease from the estimate of 1,314 agencies included in the 60-Day PRA Notice estimate. This change is explained in greater detail below. *** The total estimate of 247,302 burden hours is a decrease from the estimate of 319,302 burden hours that was included in the 60-Day PRA Notice that was published on March 23, 2016. The decrease in the estimate is solely attributable to a change in the estimated number of PHAs that will use this assessment tool as lead entities with individual submissions, rather than due to any revision in the estimated amount of time to complete an AFH using the assessment tool. The reasons for the change in the estimated number of PHAs that are assumed to use the PHA Assessment Tool is described in further detail below. Explanation of Revision in PHA Participation Estimates HUD is including the following information in the 30-Day PRA Notices for all three of the assessment tools that are currently undergoing public notice and comment. The information is intended to facilitate public review of HUD’s burden estimates. HUD is revising its burden estimates for PHAs, including how many agencies will join with other entities (i.e. with State agencies, local governments, or with other PHAs), from the initial estimates included in the 60-Day PRA Notices for the three assessment tools. These revisions are based on several key changes and considerations: (1) HUD has added new option for QPHAs, to match the approach already presented in the State Assessment Tool as issued for the 60-Day PRA Notice, to facilitate joint partnerships with Local Governments or other PHAs using a streamlined ‘‘insert’’ assessment. Using this option, it is expected that the analysis of the QPHA’s region would be met by the overall AFH submission, provided the QPHA’s service area is within the jurisdictional and regional scope of the local government’s Assessment of Fair Housing, with the QPHA responsible for answering the specific questions for its own programs and service area included in the insert. (2) HUD’s commitment to issuing a separate assessment tool specifically for QPHAs that will be issued using a separate public notice and comment Paperwork Reduction Act process. This QPHA assessment tool would be available as an option for these agencies to submit an AFH rather than using one of the other assessment tools. HUD assumes that many QPHAs would take advantage of this option, particularly those QPHAs that may not be able to enter into a joint or regional collaboration with another partner. HUD is committing to working with QPHAs in the implementation of the AFFH Rule. This additional assessment tool to be developed by HUD with public input will be for use by QPHAs opting to submit an AFH on their own or with other QPHAs in a joint collaboration. (3) Public feedback received on all three assessment tools combined with refinements to the HUD burden estimate. Based on these considerations, HUD has refined the estimate of PHAs that would be likely to enter into joint collaborations with potential lead entities. In general, PHAs are estimated to be most likely to partner with a local government, next most likely to join with another PHA and least likely to join with a State agency. While all PHAs, regardless of size or location are able and encouraged to join with State agencies, for purposes of estimating burden hours, the PHAs that are assumed to be most likely to partner with States are QPHAs that are located outside of CBSAs. Under these assumptions, approximately one-third of QPHAs are estimated to use the QHPA template that will be developed by HUD specifically for their use (as lead entities and/or as joint participants), and approximately twothirds are estimated to enter into joint partnerships using one of the QPHA streamlined assessment ‘‘inserts’’ available under the three existing tools. These estimates are outlined in the following table: QPHA inside CBSA PHA (non-Q) PHA Assessment Tool: (PHA acting as lead entity) ....................................................................... Joint partner using PHA template ............................................................ Local Government Assessment Tool (# of PHA joint collaborations) ............. State Assessment Tool (# of PHA joint collaborations) .................................. ........................ ........................ ........................ 665 ........................ 300 900 ........................ 814 100 200 ........................ 814 400 1,100 665 Subtotal ............................................................................................. QPHA template ................................................................................................ sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES QPHA outside CBSA 665 358 1,200 605 1,114 ........................ 2,979 963 Total ........................................................................................... * 1,023 * 1,805 ........................ ** 3,942 Total * These totals (1,023 and 1,805 QPHAs) are the total number of QPHAs that are located inside and outside of CBSAs. ** The total of 3,942 represents all PHAs, not the sum of QPHAs (i.e. this is the total for this vertical column, not the horizontal row across). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1 64496 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 182 / Tuesday, September 20, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Solicitation of Comment Required by the PRA In accordance with 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), HUD is specifically soliciting comment from members of the public and affected program participants on the Assessment Tool on the following: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. (5) Are there other ways in which HUD can further tailor this Assessment Tool for use by PHAs? If so, please provide specific recommendations for how particular questions may be reworded while still conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis, or questions that are not relevant for conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis, or other specific suggestions that will reduce burden for PHAs while still facilitating the required fair housing analysis. (6) Whether HUD should include any other contributing factors or amend any of the descriptions of the contributing factors to more accurately assess fair housing issues affecting PHAs’ service areas and regions. If so, please provide any other factors that should be included or any additional language for the contributing factor description for which changes are recommended. (7) Whether the inclusion of the ‘‘insert’’ for Qualified PHAs (QPHAs) will facilitate collaboration QPHAs and non-qualified PHAs, and whether these entities anticipate collaborating to conduct and submit a joint AFH. Please note any changes to these inserts that (a) would better facilitate collaboration; (b) provide for a more robust and meaningful fair housing analysis; and (c) encourage collaboration among these program participants that do not anticipate collaborating at this time. (8) Whether HUD’s change to the structure and content of the questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section with respect to the protected class groups that PHAs must analyze is sufficiently clear and will yield a VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:13 Sep 19, 2016 Jkt 238001 meaningful fair housing analysis. Additionally, HUD specifically solicits comment on whether an appropriate fair housing analysis can and will be conducted if the other protected class groups are assessed only in the ‘‘Additional Information’’ question at the end of the section, as opposed to in each subsection and question in the larger Disparities in Access to Opportunity section. HUD also requests comment on whether it would be most efficient for PHAs to have the protected class groups specified in each question in this section. If so, please provide an explanation. Alternatively, HUD requests comment on whether each subsection within the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section should include an additional question related to disparities in access to the particular opportunity assessed based on all of the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. (9) What sources of local data or local knowledge do PHAs anticipate using with respect to their analysis? Please specify which sections of the Assessment Tool PHAs anticipate using local data and local knowledge. For example, what sources of local data or local knowledge, including information obtained through the community participation process and any consultation with other relevant governmental agencies, do PHAs anticipate using for the service area as compared to the region regarding disparities in access to opportunity? Are there any different sources of local data or local knowledge for the question on disparities in access to opportunity in the publicly supported housing section? (10) Whether the instructions to the Assessment Tool provide sufficient detail to assist PHAs in responding to the questions in the Assessment Tool. If not, please provide specific recommendations of areas that would benefit from further clarity. (11) How can HUD best facilitate the anlaysis PHAs must conduct with repsect to disparities in access to opportunity? For example, are questions based on the overall service area and region of the various opportunity indicators the best way for PHAs to identify access to opportunity with respect to their residents, including voucher holders? With regards to disparities in access to opportunity, how might the PHA identify contributing factors and set goals for overcoming disparities in access to opportunity? (12) What additional guidance would be useful to PHAs to assist in conducting the fair housing analysis in the Assessment Tool? In particular, PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 which fair housing issues and contributing factors would benefit from additional guidance? For example, in the disparities in access to opportunity section, what guidance would PHAs benefit from? (13) In the publicly supported housing section, there are several questions related to assisted housing programs that are not owned or operated by the PHA. Are these questions sufficiently clear, or would additional instructions beyond those that are provided be helpful to PHAs in answering these questions? Are there other or different questions that would facilitate the PHAs’ analyses of publicly supported housing, specifically for the other categories of publicly supported housing included in this Assessment Tool? (14) There have been new questions added to the Disability and Access Analysis section, under ‘‘Housing Accessibility’’ (Questions 2(d) and 2(e)). Are these questions sufficiently clear, or would additional instructions beyond those that are provided be helpful to PHAs in answering these questions? Are there other or different questions that would facilitate the PHAs’ analyses of disability, specifically related to housing accessibility? (15) Are there other ways HUD can clarify the questions in the Assessment Tool, for example, through the provision of additional instructions, or different instrcutinos from those that have been provided? Additionally, are there other or different questions or instructions that would better assist State PHAs in conducting their fair housing analysis? Please specify whether a particular section, question, or set of instructions requires clarification. HUD encourages not only program participants but interested persons to submit comments regarding the information collection requirements in this proposal. Comments must be received by October 20, 2016 to www.regulations.gov as provided under the ADDRESSES section of this notice. Comments must refer to the proposal by name and docket number (FR–5173–N–09–A). HUD encourages interested parties to submit comment in response to these questions. Dated: September 14, 2016. Inez C. Downs, Department Reports Management Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer. [FR Doc. 2016–22594 Filed 9–19–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P E:\FR\FM\20SEN1.SGM 20SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 182 (Tuesday, September 20, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 64475-64496]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-22594]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

[Docket No. FR-5173-N-09-B]


Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Assessment Tool for Public 
Housing Agencies--Information Collection: Solicitation of Comment 30-
Day Notice Under Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

AGENCY: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal 
Opportunity, HUD.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This notice solicits public comment for a period of 30 days, 
consistent with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), on the 
Public Housing Agencies (PHA) Assessment Tool. On March 23, 2016, HUD 
solicited public comment for a period of 60 days on the PHA Assessment 
Tool. The 60-day notice commenced the notice and comment process 
required by the PRA in order to obtain approval from the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) for the information proposed to be 
collected by the PHA Assessment Tool. This 30-day notice takes into 
consideration the public comments received in response to the 60-day 
notice, and completes the public comment process required by the PRA. 
With the issuance of this notice, and following consideration of 
additional public comments received in response to this notice, HUD 
will seek approval from OMB of the PHA Assessment Tool and assignment 
of an OMB control number. In accordance with the PRA, the assessment 
tool will undergo this public comment process every 3 years to retain 
OMB approval. HUD is committed to issuing a separate Assessment Tool 
for Qualfied PHAs (QPHAs) that choose to conduct and submit an 
individual AFH or for use by Qualified PHAs that collaborate among 
multiple QPHAs to conduct and submit a joint AFH. For this reason, this 
Assessment Tool will be for use by non-Qualified PHAs, and for 
collaborations among non-Qualified PHAs and QPHAs.

DATES: Comment Due Date: October 20, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding 
this notice to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, 
Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 
10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500.
    Communications must refer to the above docket number and title. 
There are two methods for submitting public comments. All submissions 
must refer to the above docket number and title.
    1. Submission of Comments by Mail. Comments may be submitted by 
mail to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department 
of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, 
Washington, DC 20410-0500.
    2. Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit 
comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to submit 
comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments allows the 
commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, ensures timely 
receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make them immediately available to 
the public. Comments submitted electronically through the 
www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by other commenters and 
interested members of the public. Commenters should follow the 
instructions provided on that site to submit comments electronically.

    Note:  To receive consideration as public comments, comments 
must be submitted through one of the two methods specified above. 
Again, all submissions must refer to the docket number and title of 
the notice.

    No Facsimile Comments. Facsimile (FAX) comments are not acceptable.
    Public Inspection of Public Comments. All properly submitted 
comments and communications submitted to HUD will be available for 
public inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at the 
above address. Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters 
building, an advance appointment to review the public comments must be 
scheduled by calling the Regulations Division at 202-708-3055 (this is 
not a toll-free number). Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing 
and individuals with speech impairments may access this number via TTY 
by calling the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. Copies of all 
comments submitted are available for inspection and downloading at 
www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George D. Williams, Sr., Office of 
Fair

[[Page 64476]]

Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban 
Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 5249, Washington, DC 20410; 
telephone number 866-234-2689 (toll-free). Individuals with hearing or 
speech impediments may access this number via TTY by calling the toll-
free Federal Relay Service during working hours at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. The 60-Day Notice for the PHA Assessment Tool

    On March 23, 2016, at 81 FR 15549, HUD published its 60-day notice, 
the first notice for public comment required by the PRA, to commence 
the process for approval of the PHA Assessment Tool. The PHA Assessment 
Tool was modeled on the Local Government Assessment Tool, approved by 
OMB on December 31, 2015, but with modifications to address the 
differing authority that PHAs have from local governments, and how fair 
housing planning may be undertaken by PHAs in a meaningful manner. As 
with the Local Government Assessment Tool, the Assessment Tool for PHA 
allows for collaboration with other PHAs. The 60-day public comment 
period ended on May 23, 2016, and HUD received 39 public comments. The 
following section, Section II, refers to submission requirements for 
Moving to Work (MTW) Public Housing Agencies. Section III highlights 
changes made to the PHA Assessment Tool in response to public comment 
received on the 60-day notice, and further consideration of issues by 
HUD, and Section IV provides guidance on the PHA region and regional 
analysis. Lastly, Section V responds to the significant issues raised 
by public commenters during the 60-day comment period, and Section IV 
provides HUD's estimation of the burden hours associated with the PHA 
Assessment Tool, and further solicits issues for public comment, those 
required to be solicited by the PRA, and additional issues which HUD 
specifically solicits public comment.

II. Submission Requirements for Moving to Work (MTW) Public Housing 
Agencies

    For MTW PHAs submitting an individual AFH, the first AFH shall be 
submitted no later than 270 calendar days prior to the start of:
    (A) For MTW PHAs whose service areas are located within the 
jurisdictional boundaries of a local government subject to the 
submission requirements outlined in Sec.  5.160 of the AFFH rule, and 
are completing the AFH by themselves using the Assessment Tool for 
Public Housing Agencies, the program year that begins on or after 
January 1, 2019 for which the local government's new consolidated plan 
is due as provided in 24 CFR 91.125(b)(2).
    (B) For MTW PHAs whose service ares are not located within the 
jurisdictional boundaries of a local government subject to the 
submission requirements outlined in Sec.  5.160 of the AFFH rule, and 
are completing the AFH by themselves using the Assessment Tool for 
Public Housing Agencies, the fiscal year that begins on or after 
January 1, 2019 for which a new Annual MTW Plan is due as provided in 
the Moving To Work Standard Agreement (The Standard Agreement). The 
Standard Agreements are available at: www.hud.gov/mtw.
    If either of the submission deadlines would result in the MTW PHA 
not having 9 calendar months with the final Assessment Tool for Public 
Housing Agencies, HUD will establish a new submission date for those 
MTW PHAs. MTW PHAs are encouraged to partner with their local 
governments and conduct a joint or regional AFH using the Assessment 
Tool for Local Governments and/or with a PHA, in which case the MTW PHA 
would follow the lead submitter's submission date. HUD intends on 
providing additional guidance to MTW PHAs on how to incorporate actions 
and strategies into Annual MTW Plans that address AFH goals.

Second and Subsequent AFHs

    (A) After the first AFH, subsequent AFHs shall be submitted no 
later than 195 calendar days prior to the start of the fiscal year that 
begins five years after the fiscal year for which the prior AFH 
applied. All MTW PHAs shall submit an AFH no less frequently than once 
every 5 years, or at such time agreed upon in writing by HUD and the 
MTW PHA. 24 CFR 5.160(d). Given that MTW PHAs submit annual MTW Plans, 
the MTW PHA should only submit an AFH prior to the fiscal year that is 
5 years after the prior AFH submission.

III. Changes Made to the PHA Assessment Tool

    The following highlights changes made to the Assessment Tool for 
Public Housing Agencies in response to public comment and further 
consideration of issues by HUD.
    Qualified PHA (QPHA) Insert. HUD has added an insert for use by 
QPHAs that collaborate with non-qualified PHAs. The insert is meant to 
cover the analysis required for the QPHA's service area. In addition to 
the QPHA insert, HUD is committed to creating a separate QPHA 
assessment tool.
    Contributing factors. HUD has added several contributing factors 
based on recommendations from the comments from the public. HUD has 
also made slight changes to the descriptions of some of the existing 
contributing factors in light of comments received. These include: 
Inaccessible public or private infrastructure; Involuntary displacement 
of survivors of domestic violence; Lack of local or regional 
cooperation; Lack of public and private investment in specific 
neighborhoods, including services or amenities; Laws, policies, 
regulatory barriers to providing housing and supportive services for 
persons with disabilities; Nuisance laws; Restrictions on landlords 
accepting vouchers; Siting selection policies, practices and decisions 
for publicly supported housing; Source of income discrimination. The 
following contributing factors were removed from the appendix as they 
were not listed in any of the AFH sections: Inaccessible buildings, 
sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, or other infrastructure; Lack of 
assistance for housing accessibility modifications; Lending 
discrimination; Local restrictions or requirements for landlords 
renting to voucher holders
    Disparities in Access to Opportunity. HUD has made changes to the 
structure of the questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity 
section, such as reducing the number of questions in the Disparities in 
Access to Opportunity section, making the use of the table that 
includes the opportunity indices optional, and removing portions of 
questions that referenced PHAs' waiting lists. HUD no longer 
specifically calls out the protected class groups for which it is 
providing data in the questions themselves. Instead, the specific 
protected class groups will be called out in the instructions for the 
particular question. HUD has also limited these questions to the 
protected class groups for which HUD is providing data. Furthermore, 
HUD has made clear that the policy-related questions at the end of each 
subsection should be informed by community participation, any 
consultation with other relevant government agencies, and the PHA's own 
local data and local knowledge.
    Disability and Access. HUD has added two new questions to the 
Disability and Access section of the Assessment Tool. These questions 
relate to the PHA's interaction with individuals with disabilities.
    Instructions. HUD has made clarifying changes to the instructions 
to the Assessment Tool, including with respect to the use of local data 
and local

[[Page 64477]]

knowledge, additional examples of groups to consult during the 
community participation process, and additional clarifying instructions 
in the disparities in access to opportunity section based on the 
changes made to the questions in that section. In the instructions 
related to the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section of the 
Assessment Tool, regarding the HUD-provided data, HUD has also made 
clear that PHAs should only rely on the maps, rather than the 
opportunity index table; however, the table will still be provided 
should PHAs wish to make use of its contents. HUD has also included 
additional guidance in the instructions with respect to data sources 
that may be particularly relevant for assessing disability and access 
issues in the PHA's service area and region. HUD has also provided 
general and question-by-question instructions for the QPHA insert.
    Fair Housing Analysis of Rental Housing. HUD has clarified the 
analysis for this section that the analysis applies to PHAs that 
administer Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. This will reduce burden 
for public housing to only PHAs.
    Enhancements for PHAs in the Data and Mapping Tool. While the AFFH 
Data and Mapping Tool will remain substantially similar in most 
respects for PHAs as currently provided for local governments, there 
are some specific enhancements that are planned. These include the 
addition of maps and tables specifically designed for PHAs as well as 
enhanced functionality for displaying information on the maps.
    The enhanced functionality will allow a PHA to view the location of 
its own public housing developments and housing choice vouchers. Users 
will be able to identify individual PHAs and use the relevant maps to 
show the locations of the public housing developments and HCVs for that 
PHA, or to view all such HUD assisted units that are already currently 
provided in the tool (In the current Data and Mapping Tool, these are 
Maps 5 and 6. Map 5 shows the location of individual housing 
developments in four program categories (public housing, project-based 
section 8, Other HUD Multifamily (Section 202 and 811) and LIHTC). Map 
6 shows the location of Housing Choice Vouchers by concentration).
    PHAs and the public should be aware that program participants will 
not be required to begin conducting their assessments until the full 
array of online resources, including both the Data and Mapping Tool and 
the User Interface are complete and operational for PHAs.
    To assist PHAs in their assessments, HUD will be adding two 
additional maps and two additional tables that are designed to assist 
with specific questions in the assessment tool. One map will show the 
percent of housing units that are occupied by renters (by census 
tract). This first map is based on existing maps in the CPD-Maps tool 
(https://egis.hud.gov/cpdmaps/). This map is being added for both local 
governments and for PHAs. A second map map will show the locations of 
private rental housing that is affordable for very low-income families. 
This is intended to inform the analysis of the location, or lack 
thereof, of private affordable rental housing. Finally, two new tables 
will be provided showing tenant demographics for the PHA's own assisted 
residents. Examples of these tables, showing the intended type and 
format of the information to be provided was included as part of the 
60-Day PRA release.

IV. PHA Region

    Please note that a regional analysis is required for all program 
participants. Under the AFFH rule, the region is larger than the 
jurisdiction. For PHAs, under the AFFH rule, the jurisdiction is the 
service area. Unlike local governments and States, PHAs, including 
QPHAs, have service areas that range from the size of a town to match 
the boundaries of a State. The region that PHAs will analyze under the 
AFFH rule thus depends on the service area. For purposes of conducting 
a regional analysis, HUD identifies the following potential approach 
regarding geographies as regions for PHAs:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
      PHA jurisdiction/ service area                 PHA region
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Within a CBSA.............................  CBSA.
Outside of a CBSA and Smaller than a        County or Statistically
 County or Statistically Equivalent (e.g.,   Equivalent (e.g., Parish).
 Parish).
Outside of a CBSA and Boundaries            All Contiguous Counties.
 Consistent with the County.
State.....................................  State and Areas that Extend
                                             into Another State or
                                             Broader Geographic Area.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A regional analysis is of particular importance for PHAs' fair 
housing analyses because fair housing issues are often not constrained 
by service area boundaries. Additionally, PHAs may be limited by their 
available housing stock, and, in order to afford full consideration of 
fair housing choice and access to opportunity for residents in the 
service area, a larger regional analysis is necessary. For example, one 
PHA may identify segregation as a fair housing issue because their 
housing stock, and therefore their residents, who are members of a 
particular protected class group, are located in only one part of the 
service area. The PHA therefore may identify the location and type of 
affordable housing as a contributing factor for this issue because the 
only affordable housing in the jurisdiction is located in that 
particular part of the City. For the PHA to understand the options for 
addressing this fair housing issue, the PHA must not only assess where 
other affordable housing is located in the region, but also consider 
the regional patterns of segregation, racially or ethnically 
concentrated areas of poverty, disparities in access to opportunity and 
disproportionate housing needs, by protected class. In the context of 
public housing agencies, regional coordination can be especially 
important to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair 
housing choice, and foster inclusive communities. When considering a 
regional approach to addressing fair housing issues the PHA may 
consider Housing Choice Voucher portability and shared waiting lists; 
mobility counseling, increasing use of Small Area Fair Market Rents to 
set payment standards at the sub-market level; use of Project-Based 
Vouchers as siting mechanism in higher opportunity areas, including in 
conjunction with LIHTC; and use of expanded PHA jurisdictional 
authority to administer vouchers outside its boundaries. The public is 
invited to provide feedback on this proposed approach.

V. Public Comments on the PHA Assessment Tool and HUD's Responses

General Comments

    General comments offered by the commenters included the following:
    The structure of the tool is not suitable for PHAs. A commenter 
stated that the assessment tool for PHAs too closely mimics the 
Assessment Tool for local jurisdictions in the burden that it will 
place on entities that must use it to complete their AFHs. Another 
commenter stated that if a PHA partners with local housing PHAs across 
the State, ranging from very rural areas to urban areas, to administer 
day-to-day operations of the HCV program, the structure of the 
Assessment Tool is very complex and would require an analysis of a vast 
portion of the State. Another commenter stated that the tool is a 
centralized directive that does not take

[[Page 64478]]

into account a community's local needs or priorities in how the PHA or 
community wants to allocate its scarce resources. The commenter stated 
that PHAs have a mandate to continue meeting local needs but this 
forces them to prioritize fair housing activities. Another commenter 
stated that the tool ignores the real-world constraints under which 
entities operate. A commenter asked HUD to have PHAs identify and 
prioritize portions of the tool so that over a number of cycles, the 
entire tool could be completed. Another commenter stated that the tool 
should be a streamlined document that provides a broad overview of the 
AFH process to PHAs, illustrate their various options among the other 
tools, clarify that the AFH duty applies to Moving to Work Agencies, 
and do a quick walkthrough of the process of completing the PHA tool.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the commenters' views and input. HUD 
will continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for PHAs while also 
providing guidance, technical assistance and training to support PHAs 
in affirmatively further fair housing under the Fair Housing Act and 
complying with other fair housing and civil rights requirements. As 
such, HUD has made revisions to the Publicly Supported Housing, 
Disparaties in Access to Opportunity, and Disability and Access 
sections of the PHA Assessment Tool to guide PHAs in conducting a 
meaningful fair housing analysis while still being tailored to the 
operations and programmatic focus of PHAs and their respective service 
areas. HUD believes these revisions have eliminated duplicate analysis 
within the PHA tool.
    Terminology clarification. Several comments focused on certain 
terms in the tool that commenters advised needed clarification. A 
commenter asked what is meant by ``proximity to employment.'' A 
commenter asked what is an ``adequate supply'' of accessible housing. A 
commenter stated that the word ``siting'' should only be used in 
reference to new developments, and not used to refer to existing 
developments. The commenter stated that therefore, the description of 
the contributing factor ``Siting selection policies, practices, and 
decisions for publicly supported housing, including discretionary 
aspects of Qualified Allocation Plans and other programs'' should not 
use ``siting'' to reference ``acquisition with rehabilitation of 
previously unsubsidized housing.''
    HUD Response: HUD thanks these commenters for requesting 
clarification. HUD's AFFH Rule Guidebook, available at https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/4866/affh-rule-guidebook/, may provide 
some clarification on terms commenters felt needed clarification. HUD 
also notes that past siting decisions may be contributing factors to a 
fair housing issue--and is included as part of the explanation of the 
contributing factor ``Location and type of affordable housing.'' HUD 
agrees with the commenter that the siting selection policies 
contributing factor is meant to focus on new developments, but also 
includes the consideration of how those policies might target the 
``acquisition and rehabilition of previously unsubsidized housing'' 
because it results in the creation of new affordable housing 
opportunities for which location should be considered. HUD notes that 
with regards to past siting decisions, the goal to overcome that 
contributing factor may not involve ``re-siting'' that development. In 
order to understand the fair housing issues affecting a community, it 
is important that past siting decisions be taken into consideration. 
While the past siting and zoning ordinances may have contributed to the 
concentration of Publicly Suported Housing in certain neighborhoods in 
a jurisdiction that are experiencing racial and ethnic concentration, 
the AFFH rule outlines how PHAs may undertake a balanced approach in 
considering place-based investments and mobility to deconcentate 
neighborhoods and help protected class group members that use PSH move 
into low-povery and integrated neighorhoods of opportunity. HUD's 
description of contributing factors in the appendix clarifies that 
existing publicly supported housing developments may be considered 
under the contributing factor ``Location and type of affordable 
housing.''
    The tool is too burdensome. Commenters stated that the tool is too 
burdensome and PHAs do not have enough resources to complete an AFH. 
Commenters stated that PHAs will have to hire consultants because the 
assessment is too complex (which includes the analysis of the data and 
dissimilarity index) to be effectively completed by staff without 
specific statistical and mapping knowledge, and that it is hard to get 
a true estimate from a consultant at this point or figure out which 
consultant will provide high quality services. The commenters stated 
that this is an ineffective use of staff time. The commenters stated 
that resources that could be put into housing related tasks are being 
funneled into completing this tool. Another commenter stated that PHAs 
do not have the resources and run the risk of putting all of their 
energy and resources into doing the assessments, leaving nothing left 
to address the identified Fair Housing Issues. Another commenter asked 
that during the six weeks it will take to prepare the tool, how clients 
will be served, and what will happen if a PHA's high performance status 
drops because of the time being spent on the AFH.
    HUD Response: HUD is sympathetic to all program participants who 
have limited capacity to conduct an AFH, and will continue to evaluate 
ways to reduce burden for PHAs, and all program participants, while 
still ensuring a meaningful fair housing analysis is conducted such 
that goals that will result in a material, positive change can be 
established. While HUD encourages PHAs and QPHAs to partner with Local 
Governments to jointly share the workload associated with the AFH fair 
housing analysis and planning requirements, HUD proposes a streamlined 
set of QPHA questions for analysis of their service areas independently 
and in collaboration with States, Local Governments and other PHAs in 
their vicinity whether they are within or outside of a CBSA. Moreover, 
HUD recognizes potential concerns program participants may experience 
due to devoting resources toward the AFH, and it is HUD's priority to 
provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to PHAs and all 
program participants as they workto conduct their AFHs as well as 
providing as much help it can in allaying other worries as a result of 
completing the AFH.
    Funding is needed to complete the tool. Commenters stated that PHAs 
need funding to complete their AFHs. Commenters stated that the AFH 
does not recognize the zero-sum nature of a PHA's resource allocation, 
and that the President's FY 2017 budget proposal did not request 
additional money for PHAs and other participating entities to complete 
their AFH tools. Another commenter stated that it will have to spend 
subsidy or Capital Fund Program (CFP) money to complete the tool and 
this will take away from being able to maintain properties. A commenter 
stated that if HUD cannot provide additional funding, HUD needs to find 
ways to provide additional resources to all that need to complete an 
AFH.
    HUD Response: HUD understands that program participants have 
limited resources and will continue to try to reduce burden. In 
addition, HUD will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, 
and training to assist all program participants to as they work to 
conduct their assessments of fair housing. Additoinally, HUD will

[[Page 64479]]

provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to assist PHAs, as 
well as other program participants, in compliance with their fair 
housing and civil rights obligations.
    Allow waivers of the AFH if the PHA has insufficient funding or 
staff. A commenter suggested that without additional funding, HUD 
should accept waivers from PHAs to provide time to complete AFHs, 
especially those seeking to join efforts with neighboring PHAs and 
local governments.
    HUD Response: Unfortunately, HUD cannot provide waivers for certain 
program participants with respect to the submission of an AFH. However, 
HUD has built in flexibility for program participants to collaborate to 
submit a joint or regional AFH, provided for at 24 CFR 5.156 of the 
AFFH Rule. Program participants may be able to adjust their program or 
fiscal years to align with other program participants in order to 
collaborate on an AFH.
    Exempt small and qualified PHAs (QPHAs) from submitting an AFH. A 
commenter stated that QPHAs should be exempt because they lack funds 
and staff. Another commenter stated that slightly more than half of all 
PHAs manage fewer than 250 units and nearly 88 percent manage fewer 
than 500. The commenter stated that small PHAs have become leaner over 
the years and do not have the capacity to undertake the requirements of 
an AFH. Another commenter stated that if HUD will not exempt small and 
qualified PHAs, HUD should offer a significantly streamlined and 
simplified AFH tool for use by agencies with 550 combined units or 
fewer that will be of some use to them as they analyze steps they can 
take to AFFH.
    HUD Response: HUD recognizes the challenges small PHAs in 
undertaking the requirements of completing the Assessment of Fair 
Housing. In keeping with this, HUD has added an insert to the PHA and 
Local Government Assessment Tools that may be used by QPHAs that are 
conducting a joint AFH with other non-qualified PHAs and local 
governments. Use of this insert may reduce burden for the QPHA in 
completing an Assessment of Fair Housing. As HUD has stated previously, 
HUD will continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for all program 
participants, including smaller PHAs and QPHAs in complying with fair 
housing and civil rights requirements. HUD also notes that it is 
committed to creating a separate QPHA tool.
    Concerns with the use of local data. A commenter suggested local 
data that PHAs need to rely on may not exist, and cited as examples, 
education and school proficiency data that the commenter stated can be 
difficult to obtain because some PHAs serve in areas where students can 
attend schools in multiple school jurisdictions across the entire 
metropolitan region, including outside the jurisdiction of the PHA. The 
commenter stated that HUD does not include protections for PHAs that 
claim they cannot compile or obtain local data. Another commenter 
stated that local data should be optional because the burden of 
collecting it is immense. A commenter suggested that HUD's Office of 
Policy Development and Research provide greater technical assistance to 
PHAs to help them complete the AFH, including training and webinars on 
data analysis, along with a cadre of experts who can assist PHAs in 
meeting this requirement.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments. HUD notes that 
program participants need only use local data when it meets the 
criteria set forth in the AFFH rule at 24 CFR 5.152 and in the 
instructions to the Assessment Tool. HUD has also included 
clarification in the instructions to the Assessment Tool to make clear 
when local data must be used and HUD's expectations with respect to the 
use of such data. Specifically, HUD states in the instructions that 
program participants must use reasonable judgment in deciding what 
supplemental information from among the numerous sources available 
would be most relevant to their analysis. HUD later explains in the 
instructions that where HUD has not provided data for a specific 
question in the Assessment Tool and program participants do not have 
local data or local knowledge that would assist in answering the 
question, PHAs should note this, rather than leaving the question 
blank.
    Define the boundaries of a region. A commenter stated that when HUD 
finalizes the regional data, it should clearly define the boundaries of 
the regions so that PHAs know exactly the regional area that must be 
covered in their analyses and therefore the extent of the data 
necessary to answer the template questions.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates this comment and will work to ensure 
the final data provides these boundaries.
    Burden estimates are too low. Commenters stated that HUD's estimate 
that it will take one person working 40 hours a week for 6 weeks to 
complete, is far too low due to the complexity of the AFH. A commenter 
stated that PHA staff are knowledgeable on program regulations and laws 
pertaining to Fair Housing and 504 requirements, but not providing 
complex statistical data analysis. A commenter stated that it estimates 
that it will take three or four times as much as the 240-hour estimate, 
equivalent to almost one full time staff person when only four staff 
members are dedicated to the entire Section 8 program. The commenter 
stated that it is not reasonable for the AFH to take up to 25 percent 
of the administrative budget, but this is likely to happen if the State 
cannot combine efforts with its CPD formula programs. Another commenter 
stated that it estimates that it will take 1,4440 hours or 180 working 
days to complete the AFH. Another commenter stated that it estimates 
that completing the AFH will take longer than 240 hours and 
collaborating will not save any time due to the need for meetings, 
identifying responsibilities, and coming to agreement on the meaning of 
data.
    A commenter stated that since HUD funding is at an all-time 
shortage, current staff have too many responsibilities to maintain the 
level of effectiveness as is, and the challenge to stay as viable as 
possible under these circumstances (with the lack of ability to use 
funds as effectively as Moving to Work PHAs), the burden of proposed 
collection places the burden ``on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the 
backbreaker), 10!'' Another commenter stated that program participants 
will commit a total of just under 1,000,000 person hours to AFH 
completion every five years or so, and that based on the estimates 
given in the notice of how many PHAs will submit and how much time each 
one takes, this will consume more than 100 person years annually. A 
commenter stated that the outreach portion alone can easily take more 
than 100 hours. The commenter stated that 5 public meetings with 5 
staff in attendance for three hours (set up and staying after to answer 
questions) is already 75 hours, and that does not include preparing 
materials, marketing, arranging space, etc. Another commenter stated 
that HUD has revised the estimates and has estimated without evidence 
the populations of PHAs that will collaborate and submit independently. 
The commenter stated that if only half the PHAs choose to collaborate, 
the estimated burden would rise by almost 50,000 hours to 150 of HUD's 
current estimate. The commenter stated that HUD does not know how long 
it will take to prepare an AFH using any of the 3 tools published so 
far, and that HUD's assumptions about collaboration are not based in 
fact, and so HUD's estimate of burden is unsupported and probably 
inadequate.
    HUD Response: HUD understands the concerns of these commenters, and 
will

[[Page 64480]]

continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden for all program 
participants, including PHAs. In addition, HUD will also continue to 
provide guidance, technical assistance, and training as needed and 
appropriate, in an effort to build the capacity of program participants 
to undertake an Assessment of Fair Housing. In light of revisions being 
proposed for the AFH tools, HUD will continue to evaluate potential 
adjustments to burden estimates that are necessary for the applicable 
AFH Tools.
    Electronic submission will help eliminate burden. Commenters stated 
that electronic submission is the only answer to eliminate any 
potential burden to provide the information by the agency. The 
commenters stated that this analysis seems to address all the areas of 
concern with the quality of information being asked for the agency to 
provide, but that too much information being asked could be a potential 
setback as in reviewing the maps in the tools, information can be 
confusing and difficult to find the information being sought because 
the maps become hard to read.
    HUD Response: HUD agrees with these commenters and is continuing to 
work to provide PHAs with an electronic submission mechanism. HUD will 
continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training as 
needed and appropriate, to aid program participants in understanding 
how to read the HUD-provided maps.
    Eliminate the local knowledge requirement. Commenter stated that it 
is a costly burden to obtain local knowledge and data because the PHA's 
service area covers most of the State. A commenter expressed concern 
about data availability or meaningfulness in rural areas. The commenter 
stated that the requirement to use local data here is burdensome. The 
commenter stated that there needs to be explicit instructions about 
what to do when there is no HUD provided data or no meaningful HUD 
provided data and local data or knowledge is not particularly useful.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates this commenter's suggestion, however, 
HUD notes that local knowledge is critical information that can provide 
context and clarity for the HUD-provided data, to supplement the HUD-
provided data, and illuminate fair housing issues affecting a 
jurisdiction or region. However, HUD notes that the instructions to the 
Assessment Tool explain that where HUD has not provided data for a 
specific question in the Assessment Tool and program participants do 
not have local data or local knowledge that would assist in answering 
the question, PHAs should explain this, rather than leaving the 
question blank.
    The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program does not fit an AFH 
analysis. Commenters stated that PHAs that primarily operate a voucher 
program, which promotes tenant choice and, under the HCV program, 
households ultimately choose their own housing, so many of the 
considerations of siting of future housing that could be addressed 
through a tool would not be germane. Another commenter stated that a 
PHA administering an HCV program can educate and provide information to 
voucher households about the characteristics of a neighborhood but that 
does not appear sufficient per the AFFH rule. The commenter stated that 
voucher households have the right to choose preferred rental housing 
unit despite information.
    Other commenters stated that the HCV data is limited and does not 
allow AFH submitters to assess which PHAs have vouchers placed within a 
jurisdiction. The commenters stated that alternative data sets that 
include the number of vouchers by PHA is missing data for Moving to 
Work jurisdictions, which are often the larges PHAs in their region. 
Commenters stated that this data should be made available in the AFH 
data tool to permit a complete analysis of concentration patterns in 
the HCV program. The commenters stated that if a PHA jurisdiction 
contains a concentration of vouchers from other PHAs, this may be an 
important indicator of source of income discrimination in the other 
PHAs jurisdiction, and also that a PHA's mobility program is inadequate 
or that the PHA is steering voucher holders to specific areas in 
violation of the Fair Housing Act and its obligation to AFFH.
    HUD Response: HUD respectfully disagrees with the commenters' 
assertion that the HCV program does not fit in the AFH analysis. HUD 
notes that program participants that are required to conduct and submit 
an AFH to HUD are specified by the AFFH rule at 24 CFR 5.154(b) and 
include PHAs receiving assistance under Sections 8 or 9 of the United 
States Housing Act of 1937. However, HUD will continue to evaluate 
different ways to portray data relating to the HCV program to assist 
PHAs in conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis. To operate the 
HCV program within a jurisdiction, PHAs undertake market analyses and 
rental reasonableness tests to understand the supply of available 
quality affordable housing units that are feasible for lease-up using 
the payment standards PHAs may set within the overall jurisdiction or 
in smaller FMR areas or neighborhoods within the PHA's jurisdiction.
    The AFH has no practical utility. Commenters stated that the 
information asked by the PHA tool and required by the AFFH rule does 
not have practical utility and that it is not necessary to further the 
FHA's mandate to affirmatively further fair housing. A commenter stated 
that as an agency where the affordable housing has been in place for 
many, many years and the lack of funding to develop in areas of 
opportunity, the collection of data is not needed. The commenter stated 
that the PHA already understands the lack of affordable housing in 
areas of opportunity and obstacles to develop in these areas; any data 
collection will just support this argument for the need to develop in 
these areas. Commenters stated that the AFH requires PHAs to set fair 
housing goals for activities that are out of their control. Commenters 
stated that it does not make sense to have an entity that does not have 
authority to achieve these goals conduct the analysis both because the 
entity would not have specialized knowledge of the field and because 
equitable considerations would stress that the entity responsible for 
achieving the goals should be the one conducting the analysis. 
Commenters stated that the AFH requires them to set goals outside of 
their scope of control, and they may misjudge the extent to which 
achieving these goals is feasible since these goals may be in areas 
outside of their day-to-day experience. Other commenters stated that 
the tool requires PHAs to analyze factors that may have been decided 
decades ago (like siting decisions) and make conclusions about 
impediments to fair housing (like zoning and permitting) that are out 
of their control. Commenters advised that the following areas are 
outside of a PHA's experience or control: School assignment policy (HCV 
programs will need to create tools to discover the schools voucher 
holders' children attend to investigate, large agencies' participant 
households sent their children to a large number of school districts), 
employment opportunities (PHAs may know where participants work but do 
not have knowledge of access to employment opportunities and do not 
influence where employers choose to locate or where skillsets match 
up), access to transportation (PHA's have little to say in establishing 
or changing transit routes or schedules), geographic distribution of 
people with disabilities (HUD has acknowledged a lack of data), whether 
Olmstead plans have been implemented (PHAs exercise little or no

[[Page 64481]]

influence over institutions where people with disability may be housed 
and lack the expertise to evaluate appropriateness, and have no more 
control over the contents of a plan than any member of the public), and 
whether people with disabilities have access to public infrastructure 
(PHAs are in the same position as other members of the public when it 
comes to infrastructure outside of their physical assets).
    HUD Response: HUD respectfully disagrees with these commenters. HUD 
acknowledges that PHAs may already understand the fair housing issues 
and contributing factors afffecting in their service areas, and have 
limited control over certain areas of analysis contained in the AFH; 
however, those areas are part of the community in which the PHA is 
located and may have an affect or impact on fair housing in the PHA's 
service area and region. In order to best understand the fair housing 
issues affecting the PHA's service area and region, PHAs must take a 
holistic approach in analyzing their fair housing landscape in order to 
set appropriate goals that will allow the PHA to take meaningful 
actions that affirmatively further fair housing, including identifying 
policies and activities that may or may not be within their control. 
HUD also notes that the community participation process that is part of 
conducting an AFH may yield important information from members of the 
community about these issues for the PHA to consider as it conducts its 
AFH. HUD encourages PHAs to think creatively in approaching goals. HUD 
will provide some examples of goals specifically for PHAs when it 
updates the AFFH Rule Guidebook, and will provide guidance, technical 
assistance, and training to support all program participants as they 
work to conduct their AFHs.
    The tool should facilitate a broad range of approaches to 
affirmatively furthering fair housing. Commenters stated that the rule 
emphasizes the importance of a balanced approach, but does not allow 
for the assessment and inclusion of community revitalization efforts. 
The commenters stated that a two-pronged approach that both increases 
access to areas of opportunity and improves neighborhood conditions is 
best. The commenters stated that HUD should honor the value and even 
necessity of preservation of affordable housing, wherever it is 
located, to prevent displacement and further racial and economic 
segregation in cities with substantially tightening rental markets. 
Other commenters stated that the lack of preservation related questions 
and guidance in the PHA tool suggests that development in non-impacted 
areas is simply a more legitimate goal than preservation of existing 
housing that is not within an ``area of opportunity.'' The commenters 
stated that, for example, the PHA tool does not have questions directly 
assessing the preference of residents to remain in their own 
neighborhoods, even if segregated, or that help a PHA document that 
preservation and rehabilitation is the most appropriate way for the PHA 
to further fair housing while also respecting the rights of residents 
to remain in their homes and communities. The commenters stated that, 
in contrast, there is a preponderance of questions related to moving 
families away from the communities where they live, suggesting that HUD 
believes that preservation cannot be an important part of an acceptable 
strategy for meeting fair housing obligations. The commenters 
encouraged HUD to modify the tool to include more questions about 
preservation strategies and acknowledge that moving residents to areas 
of opportunity need not take precedence over providing existing, 
underserved communities with decent, safe, and sanitary affordable 
housing and improving neighborhood quality. The commenters stated that 
questions could include requests for information about community 
reinvestment and site-specific projects to restore deteriorated 
housing, and the instructions should also acknowledge that preservation 
is an appropriate fair housing tool for PHAs.
    Another commenter stated that HUD should provide clearer directions 
in each of the ``additional information'' subsections to foster a more 
balanced assessment pertinent to the fair housing issue under 
consideration. The commenter stated that positive assets that should be 
listed include affordable housing preservation organizations and 
community-based development organizations that have long worked with 
residents to improve publicly supported housing and/or community living 
conditions. The commenter stated that fair housing choice must include 
residents' ability to choose to remain in their homes and communities, 
even if these are racially or economically concentrated areas of 
poverty (R/ECAPs).
    A commenter stated that in Part V.D., questions for both the 
``Public Housing Agency Program Analysis'' and the ``Other Publicly 
Supported Housing Programs,'' ask PHAs to compare the demographics of 
developments to the demographics of the service area and region. The 
commenter expressed concern on how this will be interpreted because 
sensitivity to the wishes of existing residents must be paramount. The 
commenter stated that PHAs should describe the actions taken to 
determine residents' desire to move and the resources (and in what 
amounts) that have been used to improve the neighborhood in which the 
public supported housing development is located. The commenter stated 
that the ``Additional Information'' questions should require PHAs to 
describe efforts that have been made, are underway, or are planned to 
preserve Project Based Section 8 at risk of opting out of the program 
or prepaying the mortgage and exiting the program, or of other HUD 
multi-family assisted developments leaving the affordable housing stock 
due to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage maturity. The 
commenter stated that PHAs should describe efforts that are made, 
underway, or planned to preserve Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) 
developments, including at Year 15 and beyond Year 30.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the commenters' recommendations and 
will consider adding questions on how to evaluate tenant viewpoints on 
relocation and mobility from neighborhoods of concentration to more 
integrated areas. This will include HCV families and residents living 
in publicly supported housing properties in R/ECAPs and segregated 
neighborhoods.
    HUD encourages a balanced approach to fair housing planning, as it 
stated in the preamble to the final AFFH rule, which may include a 
variety of strategies to affirmatively further fair housing, as 
appropriate, depending on local circumstances. HUD includes questions 
and contributing factors in the Assessment Tool that relate to both 
place-based and mobility strategies in order to assist program 
participants in determining how to set goals that will lead to the 
program participant ultimately affirmatively furthering fair housing. 
Conducting an analylsis that compares the demographics of the residents 
of publicly supported housing to the area in which it is located is 
necessary for a fair housing anlaysis. Specifically, for this 
Assessment Tool, conducting a development-by-development analysis and 
comparing the demographics of developments to the areas in which they 
are located is critical when a PHA is conducting a fair housing 
analysis of its jurisdiction.
    Finally, HUD appreciates the suggestions of commenters relating to 
particular subjects that should be added to the ``Additional 
Information'' questions. HUD believes that these are all important 
areas of analysis, and will

[[Page 64482]]

continue to consider whether they should be added to the questions, 
included in instructions, or provided for in guidance. HUD will 
consider questions on how to evaluate tenant viewpoints on relocation 
and mobility from neighborhoods of concentration to more integrated 
areas. HUD will also consider giving instructions in the PHA and Local 
Government Tools on community participation to solicit feedback on 
preservation of properties and resident relocation and mobility from R/
ECAPs to more integrated neighborhoods of opportunity. These are issues 
PHAs may solicit feedback on in surveys, community participation 
meetings with residents of impacted developments, and public hearings.
    The analysis of data is burdensome. A commenter stated that the 
sheer volume of data to be analyzed and the breadth of responsibility 
placed upon housing authorities are very troubling. The commenter 
stated that although there is discussion of housing authorities under 
550 units, size alone cannot be the determining factor for the burden 
the rule will place; that PHAs with more units that operate in rural 
counties should be considered. The commenter also stated that the 
analysis and process is for naught when there is one high school and no 
public transportation, and the commenter asked about what happens if 
the town is under one census tract? The commenter stated that very 
rural towns and cities are not entitlement cities so there is no CDBG 
funding, and that many of these rural areas were hit hard in the 
recession and lost manufacturing jobs that are not coming back. The 
commenter stated that PHAs in these situations have limited resources 
and so do the communities, and that this time and money could be better 
spent addressing housing issues. Commenters stated that the 
instructions to Section VI of the tool acknowledge that PHAs may not be 
able to control all of these factors. The commenters asked HUD not to 
burden PHAs with extensive data collection and goal development for 
factors they cannot control and instead focus on those they can 
control. A commenter expressed concern that HUD provided data is not 
detailed enough to assess fair housing issues between rural and urban 
areas throughout its State and to complete the AFH. Another commenter 
expressed concern that there are significant gaps in HUD-provided 
national data that will impede PHAs in adequately assessing and 
addressing the fair housing needs of people with disabilities. The 
commenters stated that HUD should provide Federal data from the 
Medicaid program and from its own data collection. The commenter stated 
that while there may not be ``uniform'' data concerning people with 
disabilities similar to the data concerning race and ethnicity 
(especially those persons with disabilities who live in institutions or 
group homes), consideration of major sources of information should 
still be considered in order to include their consideration in fair 
housing planning.
    Some commenters stated that much of the information requested 
through the tool exhibits practical utility but the significant data 
limitations (e.g. the ability to disaggregate ethnic groups, 
neighborhood level data, local data, etc.) preclude the ability to 
easily describe contextual factors that may demonstrate impacts to 
particular groups.
    Several commenters stated that the HUD provided data is unwieldy 
and difficult to understand, and that, in some cases, it relies on 
complex social science indices whose meaning is largely unintelligible 
despite the guidance provided in the instructions and the AFFH Rule 
Guidebook. The commenters stated that the level of sophistication 
required to understand this information is at odds with the emphasis on 
public participation. Another commenter stated that the tool asks for 
data that does not exist and leaves agencies in danger of non-
compliance when there is no way to comply.
    HUD Response: HUD thanks these commenters for their views and 
recognizes that representitives of program participants may immediately 
feel overwhelmed; however, HUD will provide guidance, technical 
assistance, and training to assist all program participants in in 
building their capacity to analyze the data. As HUD has explained in an 
earlier response, it will continue to evaluate ways to reduce burden 
for program participants while still ensuring a meaningful fair housing 
analysis is conducted.
    HUD also acknowledges the limits of the data it is providing to 
program participants, especially with respect to rural areas. HUD will 
continue to assess the feasibility of providing additional data sets 
that would assist program participants in conducting an analysis in 
rural areas. Similarly, HUD understands the limits of the data it is 
providing with respect to individuals with disabilities. HUD will also 
continue to assess the feasibility of providing additional data related 
to disability and access in the future. HUD will also continue to 
evaluate how it can provide data in as user-friendly a manner as 
possible and will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, 
and training as needed and appropriate, to assist program participants 
in their use of HUD-provided data to complete an Assessment of Fair 
Housing.
    HUD already has the information sought through the AFH: HUD should 
provide the analysis. Commenters stated that the tool requests 
information HUD already has. The commenters stated that demographics 
concerning public housing property residents and voucher holders is 
submitted through HUD Form 50058; HUD has participants' characteristics 
and the Census Bureau provides demographics of the jurisdiction's 
population so HUD can make comparisons with the income eligible 
population itself; HUD already has the locations of public housing 
properties and addresses of voucher holders so it should prepopulate 
the AFH tool with this data.
    HUD Response: HUD thanks these commenters for their views, however, 
HUD believes it is important for PHAs to do their analysis to better 
understand the fair housing issues in their regions and service areas. 
Understanding the historical context, including policies that may have 
led to such issues will provide context for how program participants 
may seek to resolve them. HUD also notes the importance of program 
participants engaging with their communities in order to best 
understand the fair housing issues and contributing factors affecting 
their geographic areas of analysis. Thus, HUD is providing data that 
includes the demographics of residents and locations for certain 
categories of publicly supported housing to assist PHAs in conducting 
their fair housing analysis. PHAs must use the HUD-provided data, along 
with local knowledge and local data (when such local data and local 
knowledge meet the criteria set forth in 24 CFR 5.512 and the 
instructions to the Assessment Tool) when assessing fair housing 
issues.
    Maps and tables are not easily workable. Several commenters 
expressed concern about the functionality of the maps and tables. 
Commenters stated that dot density maps do not work at a high level for 
every variable and HUD should reevaluate the type of mapping thematics. 
A commenter requested that AFFH data and mapping tools have the 
capability to group data based on the selection of numerous counties to 
build sub-State areas. Another commenter expressed concern that HUD 
provided data is not detailed enough to assess fair housing issues 
between rural and urban areas throughout its State and to complete the 
AFH. The commenter stated that HUD should include the

[[Page 64483]]

margins of error in the data set since there is a great difference in 
the accuracy between rural and urban areas.
    Other commenters stated that maps tailored to the needs of States, 
insular areas, and PHAs outside of CBSAs remain unavailable, posing a 
serious problem for PHAs and their stakeholders and commenter cannot 
assess utility of missing maps. The commenters stated that this is a 
problem for PHAs that must make decisions concerning their approach to 
AFH tool completion, such as whether or not to pursue a collaboration. 
The commenters suggested that HUD rescind all AFH notices and 
information collections until such time as all of HUD's maps and tables 
appropriate for each kind of entity that may be submitting an AFH are 
available.
    Commenters stated that without the full functionality of the tables 
and maps, it is difficult to fully evaluate how the draft AT would work 
in conjunction with this data. The commenters stated that many of the 
sample maps are hard to read due in large part to their static nature 
(unable to zoom in or out, or otherwise adjust map settings). The 
commenters stated that HUD should strive to finalize the maps and 
tables as soon as possible, ideally before the initiation of the 30-day 
comment period. The commenters stated that if HUD cannot finalize the 
maps and tables, as it waits to gather information about PHA service 
areas, at minimum it should reference the titles of the relevant maps 
and tables within the instructions for individual tool questions.
    Other commenters stated that regional maps should consistently 
denote the PHA service area as a frame of reference. Commenters stated 
that the analyses of the indices by national origin and familial status 
cannot be done since the index scores are not currently organized by 
protected group categories other than race/ethnicity, and HUD should 
make this data available for review. Commenters stated that the 
comparisons with HUD-provided maps (such as looking side-by-side at the 
national origin demographics map and the school proficiency index map) 
are almost impossible because the maps are incredibly difficult to use. 
Commenters stated that in sample tables 9 and 10, it is unclear whether 
the ``% with problems:'' Reflects the percentage of individuals in a 
specific protected group or the percentage of overall households with 
housing/severe housing problems. Commenters also stated that the data 
for household type and size need to be broken down further to reflect 
families with three, four, and five household members because family 
households with more than five people are not an appropriate proxy for 
families with children. Commenters stated that it is very difficult to 
use sample Maps 7 and 8 to answer subpart Question 2 in 
Disproportionate Housing Needs. The commenters stated that the dots are 
very clustered and cover most of the PHA service area so the various 
desegregations are impossible to decipher. Commenters stated that it is 
unclear from the data in tables 9-11 how a PHA can make the deductions 
required by the instructions for Disproportionate Housing Needs in 
Question 3, which seems to indicate that PHAs should read the data in 
the tables together to compare the needs of families with children for 
housing units with two, three, or more bedrooms with the available 
existing housing stock in each category of publicly supported housing. 
The commenters stated that HUD must provide guidance on how a PHA is to 
interpret data given in these tables to provide the requested analyses. 
Commenters stated that a color spectrum should be used to classify 
census geographies of note as dot density maps, as presented, have too 
much flexibility in visualization and could mislead some agencies and 
members of the public to false conclusions. The commenters stated that 
HUD should publish entire series of maps for each jurisdiction as a set 
of PDFs to easily share with the public, incorporate ACS data to ensure 
more up to date data for future submissions, and address limitations of 
non-disaggregated data to tell accurate story for existing and emerging 
groups.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions from commenters 
relating to the usability of the data HUD is providing. HUD will 
continue to evaluate how to provide the data in the most user-friendly 
manner in order to help facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis. 
HUD also appreciates the suggestions for disaggregating certain data, 
making tables and maps clearer and easier to understand or interpret, 
and adding additional protected class groups to the HUD-provided data. 
HUD will continue to consider these recommendations as it provides 
updates to the AFFH data and mapping tool. HUD also recognizes that the 
data has certain limitations, and will continue to assess how to best 
provide data for rural areas. HUD will also continue to provide 
guidance, technical assistance, and training as needed and appropriate, 
to assist program participants in building capacity to use the HUD-
provided data when conducting an AFH.
    HUD should provide additional data relating to persons with 
disability. Commenters recommended the following three part approach to 
data on people with disabilities: (1) HUD should provide PHAs with data 
readily available in the federal system, including data from Money 
Follows the Person and Medicaid home and community-based waiver 
programs and options, available from the Center for Medicare and 
Medicaid Services (CMS), data on people with disabilities living in 
nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals 
with developmental disabilities, available from CMS, and data on people 
with disabilities experiencing homelessness available in the HUD 
Homeless Management Information System and/or Annual Homeless 
Assessment Report databases; (2) Where HUD-provided national data are 
unavailable, instead of HUD permitting PHAs to assert that ``data and 
knowledge are unavailable'' HUD should require PHAs to seek out and use 
local data and knowledge; (3) HUD should provide additional guidance to 
PHAs as to the types of local data and knowledge that are likely to be 
available and how to find these. Commenters also stated that all 
disability data should be provided by age group, and PHAs should be 
required to consider this distinction in their analyses. The commenters 
stated that due to the lack of nationally uniform data, the 
instructions to the Disability and Access analysis section should 
strongly encourage PHAs to solicit input from community stakeholders 
about sources of local data and local knowledge. The commenters stated 
that HUD should make suggestions of places that might have local data.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the recommendations of these 
commenters and agrees that to the extent feasible, HUD should provide 
disability-related data to program participants and the public to 
better facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis related to 
individuals with disabilities. HUD will continue to seek out data 
sources that are nationally uniform that can be provided in the AFFH 
data and mapping tool in the future. Additionally, HUD notes that 
program participants are required to use local data and local knowledge 
to complete their AFH where that information meets the criteria set 
forth at 24 CFR 5.152 and in the instructions to the Assessment Tool, 
but ne only indicate that the program participant does not have local 
data or local knowledge to supplement the HUD-provided data. HUD notes 
that CMS data may be particularly relevant

[[Page 64484]]

for program participants to consider and would welcome program 
participants' use of such data as they conduct their AFH. HUD notes 
that there are examples of sources of local data and local knowledge 
provided in the AFFH Rule Guidebook, and would encourage program 
participants and the public to evaluate whether those data may be 
useful in completing the AFH.
    Demographic data for Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) 
developments is needed. Commenters stated that tax credit units are 
vital to community development. The commenters stated that more 
important than completing an AFH is helping more people and building 
more tax credit units for families to live in. Commenters stated that 
LIHTC data does not include data on race, ethnicity, and other 
demographic data by project, which is collected by HUD annually 
pursuant to Section 2002 of the Housing Economic Recovery Act, and that 
without this data, PHAs cannot conduct a full assessment of the 
concentration of subsidized units and the demographics of those 
tenants. One commenter stated that PHAs and their subsidiary non-
profits that are involved in the development and ownership of LIHTC 
developments have this data readily available, and their failure to 
include it should be a red flag.
    Other commenters stated that the data provided on demographics of 
non-LIHTC assisted housing developments in Table 8 does not directly 
link to census tract demographics, creating an additional burden on 
submitters and undermining a key element of fair housing analysis.
    HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their input on LIHTC 
data. HUD acknowledges the limited availability of LIHTC data on tenant 
characteristics at the development level. HUD is continuing its efforts 
to collect and report on this data However,HUD notes that there are 
substantial barriers to providing LIHTC tenant data at the 
developmental level, including both the completeness of the data 
coverage and ongoing privacy concerns with releasing tenant information 
for small projects, which make up a significant portion of the LIHTC 
inventory. For example, commenters should also be aware that 
information at the development-level will often not be available due to 
federal privacy requirements and the small project sizes in a large 
portion of the LIHTC inventory. HUD encourages program participants to 
use local data and local knowledge, when such information meets the 
criteria set forth at 24 CFR 5.152 and in the instructions to the 
Assessment Tool, to complete this portion of the analysis.
    The Assessment Tool's certification requirements create new legal 
liability for PHAs. Commenters expressed concern that the PHA Tool's 
Certification requirements may create new legal liability for PHAs. The 
commenters stated that by signing the Certification, PHAs may expose 
themselves to audits by HUD for failure to further the goals they set 
or they may be subject to lawsuits from parties who believe they have 
been injured by the fair housing impediments that the PHA described. 
The commenters stated that liability is created not by actual failure 
of the PHA to perform under the ACC or other agreements with HUD, but 
by virtue of the fact that the Assessment Tool requires PHAs to certify 
that they will take actions that they have neither the legal authority 
nor resources to take. Other commenters stated that liability exists in 
detailed levels within the Assessment Tool itself, and stated, as an 
example, the tool, in asking PHAs to assess past goals, effectively 
requires PHAs to make a public admission of wrongdoing which may 
promote litigation. The commenters stated that this question and the 
broader emphasis on failures should be removed. Commenters encouraged 
HUD to create a safe harbor standard for PHAs that act in good faith in 
determining the most relevant one (or two or three) data sets or 
political boundaries for use in completing the tool. Another commenter 
stated that the tool is not an effective means for HUD to enforce the 
AFH. The commenter stated that the tool runs the risk of punishing PHAs 
for lacking resources and may unintentionally create a spirit of 
animosity towards the concepts of fair housing instead of encouraging 
PHAs to be champions of fair housing.
    HUD Response: HUD understands the concerns raised by these 
commenters, however, HUD notes that the AFH is a planning document., In 
order to effectively engage in fair housing planning, it is important 
for program participants to evaluate the past and current state of fair 
housing in their communities in order to set meaningful goals to 
overcome contributing factors and related fair housing issues. HUD also 
notes that the Assessment Tool provides opportunities for PHAs to 
identify past goals, strategies, and actions in order to allow the 
program participant to reflect on past progress or setbacks with 
respect to fair housing. The purpose of this portion of the assessment 
is to allow program participants to readjust their approach and make 
changes to any goals they may not have been able to achieve. Failure to 
achieve a goal set in an AFH does not necessarily mean the program 
participant has not met its statutory obligation to affirmatively 
further fair housing.
    Consultation requirements. Commenters had a variety of comments on 
the consultation requirements. Commenters stated that the tool should 
require PHAs to consult with and reach out to a wide variety of 
organizations, including those that represent people who are members of 
the Fair Housing Act's protected classes because the regulations seek 
to have PHA plans informed by meaningful community participation. Other 
commenters stated that PHAs should be required to list all entities 
consulted and the dates consulted, so residents and advocates can 
assess if this was most appropriate. The commenters stated that a PHA 
should provide a written summary of the input offered through the 
consultation and attach this as an appendix to the Assessment Tool. 
Other commenters stated that since the tool is intended to be a guide 
for PHAs, and therefore residents and community participants, it should 
include examples of the types of groups PHAs could consider reaching 
out to. A commenter suggested that Resident Advisory Boards, resident 
councils, groups representing HCV households, people on waiting lists, 
community groups, affordable housing advocacy organizations, and legal 
services offices. Another commenter stated that PHAs should describe 
how community participation was both provided for and encouraged, and 
should present a detailed list (with date and time of day) of specific 
participation activities for various components of the stakeholder 
community. Another commenter stated that PHAs should be required to 
list organizations that submitted written comments and/or delivered 
remarks at public hearings, so that residents and advocates will be 
able to assess whether the groups that participated represent a balance 
of opinions.
    Commenters stated that PHAs should be required to address the 
following: How meetings and events were held at times and places 
conducive to optimal participation (ex: Meetings on evenings and 
weekends); how PHAs assessed language needs and provided for 
translation of notices and vital documents, as well as provided 
interpreters for meetings and public hearings; how far in advance 
notice of meetings and events was provided, and the form of 
notification (mailings, postings in common areas of properties, easily 
identified notices on the PHA's

[[Page 64485]]

home page, Listserv, notices in newspapers oriented to neighborhoods 
where PHA properties are located and in appropriate language, notices 
in newsletters of organizations serving various populations, PSAs, 
provisions for LEP persons, provisions for people with visual, hearing, 
or other communications disabilities, social media); discussions with 
residents of public housing to determine whether residents want to 
remain in their homes and communities or relocate to areas that may 
offer other opportunities; summarize all local knowledge and comments 
and explained why they were accepted or why not, and included as an 
appendix; outreach to tenants beyond a Resident Advisory Board, 
particularly underserved populations such as HCV holders and single 
mothers: Many developments may not even have a Resident Advisory Board; 
and efforts to conduct outreach to residents of public housing, Section 
8 HCV holders, and persons eligible to be served by the PHA, and to 
briefly describe how documents associated with the AFH, including the 
draft AGH, were provided to public housing tenants, voucher holders, 
and other interested parties. Another commenter stated that HUD should 
amend Question 2 on page one to require PHAs to provide a list of 
stakeholders working in the areas of public health, education, 
workforce development, environmental planning or transportation. A 
commenter stated that the accompanying instructions should reference 24 
CFR 903.17 which requires, in part, that the PHA makes the draft AFH 
and other required documents available for public inspection. Another 
commenter stated that the instructions and guidance should provide PHA-
specific suggestions regarding advertising public meetings and hearings 
and recommended making the draft documents easily accessible. Another 
commenter stated that the instructions accompanying Question 2 should 
provide examples of the types of organizations with which PHAs may 
consult.
    A commenter stated that by focusing on a community participation 
process that seeks to reach the ``broadest audience possible,'' HUD 
forces PHAs to choose quantity over quality engagement by limiting the 
PHA's ability to focus engagement on those most impacted by impediments 
or barriers to fair housing as well as prioritize key demographics.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions from commenters. 
PHAs are required to comply with the requirements for community 
participation, consultation, and coordination set forth in 24 CFR 5.158 
and the requirements set forth at 24 CFR part 903. HUD has provided 
examples of groups that program participants may wish to reach out to 
in order to obtain certain information, input, or perspectives when 
conducting the community participation process in the AFFH Rule 
Guidebook. HUD will evaluate whether this guidance should be expanded 
in the future to include a list of statekholders the program 
participants should consult. Additionally, HUD notes that when 
conducting community participation, PHAs, and all program participants, 
must comply with the fair housing and civil rights requirements 
specified at 24 CFR 5.158, and encourages program participants to 
consider all audiences, especially those who may be impacted by their 
planning documents and who may not have had prior opportunities to 
share their feedback with the PHAs.
    Waiting lists concerns. Commenters stated that most, if not all, 
housing authority developments exist in impacted areas so any waiting 
list applicant could be greatly impacted. The commenters opposed 
inclusion of data from families on the waiting list in completing the 
AFH since this information has not been verified and is limited, so 
it's difficult to make assumptions about any relevant factors related 
to the AFH. Commenters stated that some data is available for 
individuals on the waiting list, but commenter questions the relevancy 
as those on the list may need to wait years and circumstances may 
change. HUD should clarify the purpose it feels this serves. Other 
commenters stated that applicants apply for housing based on their 
desire to live in a specific area for a number of reasons, and data 
collected from the waiting list may not give all the needed information 
to provide an accurate analysis for fair housing. Another commenter 
stated that PHAs do not have historic waiting list data (data beyond 
the record retention period). The commenter stated that PHAs have data 
on households on waiting lists that include household members, 
disability status, student status, race, and ethnicity, and that 
waiting list household data is self-reported and not verified by PHA 
staff. A commenter stated that a PHA operates with multiple waiting 
lists, and that PHAs do not treat waiting list's data uniformly and 
have different amounts of information and may verify at different 
times. A commenter stated that it does not believe that analyzing 
individuals on the waiting list will yield useful information in fair 
housing planning because the demand for affordable and federally 
assisted housing far exceeds the supply, and families may be unable to 
move for reasons other than the PHAs action or inaction. Another 
commenter stated that certain types of tenant selection and waiting 
list management policies can have a discriminatory impact on persons in 
protected classes by making it more difficult for out-of-town families 
to gain admission or by creating barriers to people with disabilities. 
A commenter stated that if the tool is going to seek information on 
waiting lists, it should ask: If the PHA requires in-person 
applications at the PHA office or if applications can be obtained by 
mail or online or at multiple locations; if applications only accepted 
online, if the PHA uses a first-come first-served waiting list, or a 
lottery to determine placement on the waitlist; if the PHA keeps the 
waitlist open for a long enough time to permit applicants from outside 
the service area to apply; if the PHA applies any local preferences for 
program admission, and, if so, to describe; and how the PHA makes 
information available to people with limited English proficiency, and 
what accommodations it makes for people with disabilities.
    HUD Response: HUD understands the limitations with respect to the 
information PHAs may have regarding the demographics of those 
individuals or households on the PHA's waiting list, and HUD has 
removed language related to this as a result of the commenters' 
suggestions. However, HUD notes that this information would be 
considered local data and local knowledge for purposes of conducting 
the AFH, and that information would have to meet the criteria set forth 
in 24 CFR 5.152 and the instructions to the Assessment Tool in order 
for its use to be required. Further, HUD notes that information about 
the PHA's waiting list may be provided as part of the community 
participation process. HUD appreciates the recommendations relating to 
information that should be sought with respect to waiting lists. While 
HUD is still requiring this analysis in parts of the Assessment Tool, 
HUD has reduced the number of questions that ask for analysis of the 
PHA's waiting list. Specifically, HUD has removed the waiting list 
references in the policy questions in the Disparities in Access to 
Opportunity section.
    HUD will continue to consider whether additions of these sorts of 
questions to the Assessment Tool would be beneficial for conducting a 
meaningful fair housing analysis of the PHA's service area and region.

[[Page 64486]]

    Suggestions for analyzing disparities in access to opportunity. 
Commenters offered several suggestions to the Disparities in Access to 
Opportunity section. With respect to Education, commenters stated that 
HUD should provide a clearer explanation of what the School Proficiency 
Index, stating that the AFFH data documentation fails to mention 
protected characteristics with respect to the School Proficiency index, 
so the relationship between it and the protected class status is left 
unclear. A commenter stated that HUD should define ``attendance areas'' 
and briefly explain how attendance areas are determined in the 
instructions, and that any explanation concerning the School 
Proficiency Index should differentiate between proximity to proficient 
schools and actual access to proficient schools. The commenter stated 
that the index has serious limitations since it is determined only by 
the performance of 4th grade students on state exams and, in some 
cases, in schools that are only within 1.5 miles of where individuals 
in protected groups are located. Another commenter stated that question 
iii(1)(a)(iii) should not be limited to prompting discussion about 
access to proficient schools by protected class members who are public 
housing residents, voucher tenants, and families families on the 
waiting lists for these programs for these programs, but instead should 
ask about those who still experience disparities in educational 
outcomes, such as graduation rates, test scores, and other performance 
measures. The commenter stated that instructions should specifically 
ask about disparities in educational outcomes for students who attend 
proficient schools.
    With respect to employment, a commenter stated that the tool should 
ask PHAs to describe actions complying with Section 3 obligations and a 
description, if appropriate, of planned efforts to overcome 
underperformance. Another commenter stated that the job proximity index 
does not take into account the skill level needed for jobs or the jobs 
that are actually available so therefore just because individuals in a 
protected group may live in area close to jobs, it does not necessarily 
mean that they have better access to job opportunities. The commenter 
stated that HUD should find a means by which to measure other forms of 
human capital, such as prior job experience, skills, or training.
    With respect to transportation, a commenter stated that it is 
unclear how the low transportation cost and transit trips indices 
provide information on access to transportation by protected groups 
because of several factors including the absence of key maps (such as a 
map of residency patterns of protected groups overlaid by shading 
showing transportation access at the neighborhood level) and a lack of 
clarity on what the low transportation cost index measures. The 
commenter stated that the two variables from the instructions (low 
transportation cost index measures the ``cost of transport and 
proximity to public transportation by neighborhood'') seem different 
from each other because it's possible for individuals have relatively 
low transportation costs (higher score) and no proximity to public 
transit (lower score), as when there is no public transit available and 
people drive short distances to work. The commenter asked that, in 
these situations, how one index score can measure two variables that 
can be very different from each other. The commenter stated that since 
the transit index scores only measures the frequency of transit use, 
these scores do not measure transportation access. Another commenter 
stated that in the transportation opportunities section, the language 
``connection between place of residence and opportunities'' should be 
restored, since access to transit alone is not enough if it does not 
connect residents to opportunities.
    With respect to access to low poverty neighborhoods, a commenter 
stated that there are limitations to the low poverty index because the 
calculation method compares national and tract-level data, making it 
unsuitable for judging the relative position of a tract in a city or 
region. The commenter stated that the instructions refer to a Question 
(1)(d)(iv) that does not exist. With respect to access to 
environmentally healthy neighborhoods, a commenter stated that this 
data is limited since it only covers air toxins, is outdated, and 
according to the EPA, is only valid for large geographic areas, like 
regions and States. Another commenter stated that in the access to 
environmentally healthy neighborhoods section, there should be a 
specific question about the access of families in PHA programs to 
environmentally healthy neighborhoods and whether they are 
disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards and undesirable 
land uses. PHAs should be required to discuss indicators of 
environmental health based on local data and knowledge because it is 
not burdensome to acquire. Another commenter stated that limiting the 
required analysis of environmental hazards to the air quality data 
provided by HUD renders the analysis incomplete and misleading, and 
participants must be required to analyze other indicators from local 
data. The commenter presented three specific examples within the State 
of Texas to illustrate this point. The commenter stated that 
vulnerability to the effects of a natural disaster should also be 
considered as part of the environmental hazards assessment.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the suggestions related to the 
data on disparities in access to opportunity, and in response to these 
comments, HUD no longer requires that such indices be reviewed by PHAs, 
although they may choose to refer to the indices. HUD also recognizes 
that the data provided has certain limitations, which are explained in 
the instructions to the Assessment Tool, the AFFH Rule Guidebook, and 
the Data Documentation, available at https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/4848/affh-data-documentation/. HUD has rewritten the questions 
in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity Section to more 
specifically address the HUD provided data that will offer the most 
utility in conducting this analysis, specifically the HUD-provided 
maps. While the opportunity indices will still be available for PHAs to 
use, only the maps are now required to be analyzed to complete this 
analysis. Through using the maps, PHAs can see where areas of 
opportunity are for the various opportunity categories and how they 
relate to their residents by protected class groups (race/ethnicity, 
national origin, families with children).
    Addtionally, HUD has changed the policy related questions to 
emphasize that PHAs' analysis will rely on community participation, any 
consultation with other relevant government agencies, and the PHA's own 
local data and local knowledge. HUD encourages program participants to 
use local data and local knowledge to supplement the HUD-provided data 
where such information meets the criteria set forth at 24 CFR 5.152 and 
in the instructions to the Assessment Tool. HUD will continue to 
evaluate whether it is feasible to provide additional or other data 
with respect to disparities in access to opportunity in manner that 
would be nationally uniform and facilitate a meaningful fair housing 
analysis.
    With respect to the suggestion to include a question about 
educational outcomes for students who attend proficient schools, HUD 
believes that while this is an important analysis to undertake, it is 
beyond the scope of the Assessment of Fair Housing. HUD, however, 
encourages program participants who wish to include such information in 
their analysis to do so.

[[Page 64487]]

HUD has also re-phrased the question in the transportation section of 
the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section of the Assessment Tool 
raised by the commenters. That question now asks, ``For the protected 
class group(s) HUD has provided data, describe how disparities in 
access to transportation relate to residential living patterns.''
    HUD also appreciates the commenters concerns about the 
environmental health index's limitations. In order to provide for a 
more robust assessment relating to access to environmentally healthy 
neighborhoods without imposing additional burden on program 
participants, HUD has included additional contributing factors for 
consideration, such as ``access to safe, affordable drinking water'' 
and ``access to sanitation services.'' HUD encourages program 
participants to include other relevant environmental hazards in their 
analysis or in identifying contributing factors.
    Comments on Publicly Supported Housing. Commenters stated that in 
the section on ``Other Publicly Supported Housing Programs'' there 
should be a question or data reporting opportunity that looks at the 
overall concentration of assisted housing in particular neighborhoods. 
Other commenters stated that the Publicly Supported Housing Analysis 
section emphasizes questions concerning the location and occupancy of 
publicly supported housing, with limited questions about access to 
opportunity by residents, and no questions about disproportionate 
housing needs specific to the context of publicly supported housing. 
Another commenter stated that this section should ask about access to 
community assets (including proficient schools, transportation, 
employment, social services, green space, job training, and community 
centers) by residents of public housing, such as amenities within and 
in close proximity to publicly supported housing developments. Another 
commenter stated that this section does not touch on issues such as 
access to supportive or other services by residents of publicly 
supported housing. The commenter stated that currently, PHAs would put 
this information in the ``Additional Information'' section but 
featuring such questions more prominently is likely to get the it 
thinking about the ways in which the PHA and other publicly supported 
housing in the PHA's service area and region are themselves providing 
access to opportunity via promoting access to community assets and 
other necessary services. Another commenter stated that under the 
Publicly Supported Housing Analysis, the tool should ask how many 
individuals are turned away from public housing because of prior 
evictions and how many of these prior evictions are due to non-payment 
of rent or other factors that are not indicative of relevant 
qualifications.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions from commenters, 
and will consider improved ways to structure this section that will 
solicit the appropriate level of information from PHAs and is the least 
burdensome. Also, since PHAs must conduct an analysis of disparities in 
access to opportunity and disproportionate housing needs in prior 
sections of the Assessment Tool, HUD did not want to add duplication of 
effort to the publicly supported housing section. HUD also notes that 
information relating to prior evictions, non-payment of rent, or other 
qualifications relating to admissions and occupancy policies of PHAs 
are assessed through the contributing factor of ``admissions and 
occupancy policies and procedures, including preferences in publicly 
supported housing.'' HUD also notes that information relating to 
whether eligible individuals or households are able to access publicly 
supported housing could be obtained through the community participation 
process.
    Comments on Public Housing Agency Program. A commenter stated that 
in the section on ``Public Housing Agency Program Analysis'', PHAs 
should be asked whether tenants in RAD developments have been informed 
about their choice/mobility rights, and whether the PHA has offered 
tenants any assistance in making moves to lower-poverty areas. Another 
commenter stated that the location of project-based voucher 
developments should be analyzed separately from the location of tenant-
based vouchers because of important fair housing issues related to site 
selection of PBVs. The commenter stated that the simplest approach 
would define the ``PHA's developments'' to include developments where 
the PHA has project-based vouchers in addition to properties the PHA 
owns. The commenter stated that this can be incorporated in Part 
D(1)(b)(i) on pg. 9 of the tool and the explanation of Publicly 
Supported Housing Analysis beginning on page 27 should also include 
specific references to PBVs.
    A commenter stated that PHAs should be asked to evaluate their 
programs in terms of addressing sexual harassment, related to domestic 
violence, and the location of senior and family housing developments 
and demographics of these developments. Another commenter stated that 
even though sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status are 
not unequivocally covered by the Fair Housing Act, they are protected 
from discrimination in HUD's Final Rule on Equal Access to Housing in 
HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, so 
PHAs should be required to analyze barriers to fair housing choice 
affecting these populations. A commenter stated that PHAs should be 
required to do an analysis of their policies and procedures regarding 
persons re-entering from the criminal justice system, to evaluate the 
condition and maintenance needs of its properties by geographic area 
and demographics of each property, and to analyze their homeownership 
programs as well as their rental programs.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the recommendation regarding mobility 
and RAD, and will consider whether they are appropriate to the 
analysis, while also considering the level of burden in completing the 
AFH. HUD also appreciates these comments and agrees with the commenter 
that an assessment of a PHA's programs in terms of addressing sexual 
harassment, related to domestic violence, and the location of senior 
and family housing, including the demographics of those developments is 
critical when conducting a fair housing analysis. HUD has added the 
contributing factors of ``involuntary displacement of survivors of 
domestic violence,'' ``nuisance laws,'' and ``lack of safe, affordable 
housing options for survivors of domestic violence.'' Additionally, HUD 
notes that some of the HUD-provided data includes the demographics of 
families with children and elderly households in certain types of 
assisted housing.
    Comments on Fair Housing, Enforcement, Outreach Capacity and 
Resources Analysis. In the section on ``Fair Housing Enforcement, 
Outreach Capacity, and Resources Analysis'' the reporting of fair 
housing complaints and investigations should include any consent 
decrees, settlement agreements, or Voluntary Compliance Agreements that 
are still in effect. Another commenter stated that under Fair Housing 
compliance and infrastructure, include questions on enforcement of 
discrimination against victims of domestic violence under VAWA. Another 
commenter stated that Question (c)(v) of the Fair Housing Analysis of 
Rental Housing subsection should acknowledge the risk of losing access 
to opportunity for other publicly supported housing residents besides 
HCV households. The commenter stated that this question should also 
include a prompt that acknowledges the risk of

[[Page 64488]]

losing access to opportunity through unwanted displacement. The 
commenter stated that a third prompt should read, ``Are at risk of 
losing affordable rental housing units, including a landlord's choice 
to end participation in the Housing Choice Voucher program, or loss of 
affordability restrictions in other publicly supported housing programs 
(e.g., opting-out from a project-based Section 8 contract).'' A 
commenter stated that HUD should require the PHA to briefly explain its 
efforts to comply with HUD's LEP guidance and to otherwise provide 
meaningful access to LEP populations. The commenter stated that this 
section should include questions that ask the PHA to briefly explain 
its efforts to serve domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, 
including steps it has taken to comply with VAWA.
    HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for these recommendations. 
HUD notes that the question relating to civil rights compliance does 
include consent decrees, settlement agreements, or voluntary compliance 
agreements that are still in effect. HUD declines to add enforcement 
against discrimination against victims of domestic violence under the 
Violence Against Women Act to this section, but notes that it has added 
certain contributing factors to prior sections of the Assessment Tool, 
as noted above. HUD has also added the contributing factor of ``Lack of 
meaningful language access'' to the publicly supported housing section 
of the Assessment Tool to allow PHAs to assess their efforts to comply 
with HUD's LEP guidance and their efforts to provide meaningful access 
to LEP populations.
    Comments on disproportionate housing needs. Commenters stated that 
the section on disproportionate housing needs should include data and 
analysis on the population of people experiencing homelessness that are 
currently un-housed. A commenter stated that specifically reference the 
commitments the US made during the Universal Periodic Review to invest 
further efforts in addressing the root causes of racial incidents and 
expand its capacity in reducing poverty in neighborhoods experiencing 
subpar services and amend laws that criminalize homelessness that are 
not in conformity with international human rights. Another commenter 
stated that under disproportionate housing needs the tool should ask 
for a description about laws that may impact victims of domestic 
violence. A commenter suggests that PHAs can use information regarding 
survivors that they are already required to report under federal and 
local laws, since VAWA mandates that PHAs are required to include 
address the housing needs of survivors in their planning documents. A 
commenter stated that when discussing affordability of housing units in 
the definitions section and throughout, it is important to clarify that 
it is not enough to have units that are affordable at 80% area median 
income or other moderate incomes.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments. HUD has added the 
contributing factor ``Access to public space for people experiencing 
homelessness'' to the disproportionate housing needs section. HUD will 
continue to evaluate the feasibility of providing data on homelessness 
such that it will facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis. As 
previously stated in this Notice, HUD has added three contributing 
factors relating to victims of domestic violence. HUD notes that 
certain data it is providing include demographic data based on income 
eligibility for certain HUD assisted housing, and those data are 
provided for 30%, 50%, and 80% AMI income levels.
    Comments on Instructions. A few commenters stated the instructions 
that accompany the tool are adequate, but other commenters stated that 
the instructions are not effective as there are over 2 pages of 
instructions per page of the tool and they are repetitive and 
internally inconsistent. The commenters offered, as an example, that 
HUD quotes regulatory language concerning the character of acceptable 
local data without providing guidance on the standards HUD will use to 
determine its statistical validity or an objective standard. The 
commenters stated that the instructions are also hard to navigate and 
it is time consuming. Commenters offered various wording changes for 
specific instructions, but many commenters stated that what would be 
most helpful is for HUD to provide examples.
    Commenters stated that the instructions should offer examples of 
likely sources of local knowledge important to residents, such as 
university studies and experiences of advocacy organizations, service 
providers, school districts, and health departments. Commenters stated 
that the instructions should provide examples of local knowledge such 
as efforts to preserve publicly-supported housing, community-based 
revitalization efforts, public housing Section 18 demolition or 
disposition application proposals, RAD conversion proposals, transit-
oriented development plans, major redevelopment plans, comprehensive 
planning or zoning updates, source of income ordinance campaigns, and 
inclusive provision campaigns. Other commenters stated that the 
instructions should provide examples of real strategies that PHAs could 
employ to obtain the information necessary to answer the questions that 
require the use of local data and should draw connections between a 
specific opportunity indicator and the PHA where a particular indicator 
intersects with existing PHA operations. A commenter stated that would 
be most helpful is for thud to provide a complete sample AFH to show 
the level of analysis required.
    Another commenter stated that the instructions should provide clear 
guidance on how PHAs should read the tables with indices that are 
organized by protected group. A commenter stated that a shorter 
pamphlet that explains the difference between the tools and provides 
links to other sources of information would be useful.
    HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their feedback. HUD has 
provided additional clarifying language to the instructions with 
respect to the use of local data and local knowledge. HUD also 
understands the difficulty with the format of the Assessment Tool and 
the instructions coming at the end. HUD notes that it intends to 
provide PHAs, as it has done for Local Governments, with an online 
portal (User Interface) that will allow for electronic submissions and 
will provide the instructions for each question immediately before the 
question itself. HUD anticipates that this format will be more user-
friendly for PHAs.
    HUD declines to provide additional examples of local data and local 
knowledge in the instructions at this time, but notes that examples are 
provided in the AFFH Rule Guidebook. The AFFH Rule Guidebook also 
offers guidance relating to the community participation process and may 
be useful to PHAs in soliciting views relating to the issues commenters 
raised above. HUD also notes that it will continue to provide guidance, 
technical assistance, and training, as needed and appropriate with 
respect to the use of HUD-provided data in order to build capacity of 
PHAs so that they may conduct a meaningful fair housing analysis.
    QPHA Collaboration. Commenters stated that, in reviewing the goal 
of the assessment tool, the collaborating organizations need current 
data to enable them to fairly assess the data and provide a good plan 
in addressing the need for housing in areas of opportunity. A commenter 
stated that it believes small agencies will find collaboration 
generally the most

[[Page 64489]]

acceptable way to fulfill their AFH responsibilities although still 
notes the complexity and lack of current information. Another commenter 
stated that it plans to collaborate with the local government in 
submitting its tool so the collaborating organizations can plan and 
implement a comprehensive approach to fair housing. The commenter 
stated that since the PHA has no jurisdiction over certain conditions 
in the municipality, such as transportation and education, in the 
absence of a partnership a PHA would be limited in its ability to 
conduct meaningful fair housing planning. Another commenter stated that 
it believes that most PHAs will collaborate with local governments 
because they are most likely to have had pre-existing relationships 
with PHAs.
    A commenter stated that it does not intend to submit a joint AFH, 
but that it will work with entities including the state Department of 
Housing and Community Development, local governments, and PHAs in the 
sharing of data resources and local knowledge. Another commenter stated 
that some of its PHA members would not be collaborating with other 
entities at all. The commenter stated that they are concerned about 
problems such as fear of free riders, the prospect of one entity 
slowing down the entire collaborative process, and the difficulty of 
collaborating in some rural areas where the entities may not be 
geographically proximate. Another commenter stated that it would take 
at least an additional 33 percent of the estimated time to complete an 
AFH for collaborative efforts. The commenter stated that HUD should 
account for the fact that if a PHA determines that it makes the most 
sense to complete the PHA tool on their own, they will still be 
expected to participate in their local jurisdiction's AFH for aspects 
related to PHA-specific issues which adds to the administrative hours.
    HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their views related to 
QPHA collaboration. HUD also appreciates the commenter sharing that it 
will work with entities including the state Department of Housing and 
Community Development, local governments, and PHAs despite not 
collaborating with another program participant. However, HUD maintains 
its position and encourages collaboration to the extent practicable. In 
fact, HUD has provided a sample agreement in the AFFH Guidebook that 
includes language stipulating what each entity will be responsible for, 
which may alleviate any confusion or lack of contributions within the 
collaboration.
    Facilitating QPHA Collaboration. A commenter stated that HUD should 
do more to encourage PHAs to prepare joint AFHs by providing clearer 
guidance, incentives, and funding. The commenters stated that, in 
particular, HUD should clarify which PHAs should complete an AFH on 
their own and which PHAs should submit jointly with other neighboring 
PHAs or local government entities. The commenters stated that, for 
example, a PHA with less than 250 units who participates in a joint AFH 
might be eligible for additional technical assistance, time, and the 
ability to sync their PHA plan with neighboring PHAs to encourage 
cooperation and joint strategies. Another commenter stated that HUD 
staff would have to review and accept in a timely manner 3,153 PHAs' 
AFHs and over 1,200 local jurisdictions' AFHs, so having PHAs submit 
joint AFHs will assist HUD in reviewing them.
    A commenter stated that increased data flexibility and integration 
across tables and maps would support individual and joint PHA analysis. 
Another commenter stated that it is the coordinating State agency for 
CPD formula HUD funding in the State and anticipates completing the AFH 
using the tool for States. The commenter stated that it is also a PHA 
and as a PHA it exceeds to the voucher limit noted in the rule for 
being a QPHA eligible for collaboration with the state. The commenter 
stated that in the event that the State would like to have its tool 
serve as a collaborative submission inclusive of itself as a PHA, it is 
not clear that this is possible. The definition of QHPA should be 
clarified to denote that states that are, themselves, PHAs are included 
as QPHAs regardless of voucher volume and are able to be 
collaboratively included in the state tool if the state desires in 
order to avoid a duplication of effort.
    A commenter stated that HUD should incentivize collaboration by 
providing more resources and more time to complete a full assessment 
when collaborating with other entities. Another commenter stated that 
the most important issue here is the divergence of questions between 
the PHA Assessment Tool and the Local Government Assessment Tool. The 
commenter stated that if there is a proposed collaboration between a 
PHA or PHAs and a local jurisdiction, it should be made clear that the 
cumulative questions in both AFHs should be applied to the 
collaboration, so that key information is not omitted based on which 
entity is the ``lead.'' The commenter stated that an easy way to 
accomplish this would be a new AFH collaborative tool that incorporates 
all of the questions and data in both the PHA and local jurisdiction 
tools. Another commenter stated that a new collaborative tool will be 
useful and suggests that HUD should make it clear that all questions 
from the PHA Assessment Tool and the Local Government Assessment Tool 
must be answered in a collaborative AFH, but also that each entity does 
not have to do a separate analysis when questions are duplicative.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the commenters' suggestions 
regarding how to best facilitate QPHA collaboration. HUD is not able to 
direct certain types of program participants to collaborate on an AFH, 
as the regulation, at 24 CFR 5.156, makes clear that such collaboration 
is entirely voluntary. HUD also clarifies that the use of the 
Assessment Tool for PHAs is meant for use by PHAs conducting and 
submitting an AFH alone or with other PHAs, including QPHAs. The 
Assessment Tool for Local Governments is intended for use by local 
governments conducting and submitting an AFH alone, or with other local 
governments, or with PHAs, including QPHAs. Finally, the Assessment 
Tool for States and Insular Areas is intended for use by States or 
Insular Areas conducting and submitting an AFH alone, with local QPHAs 
partnering with the State, with local governments that received a CDGB 
grant of $500,000 or less in the most recent fiscal year prior to the 
due date for the joint or regional AFH in a collaboration with the 
State, or with HOME consortia whose members collectively received less 
than $500,000 in CDBG funds or received no CDBG funding that partners 
with the State. HUD will continue to explore ways to facilitate 
meaningful collaborations among all types of program participants. The 
questions in each of those Assessment Tools are specifically designed 
to include the required analysis for each type of program participant, 
should that type of collaboration occur. HUD has also committed to 
issuing an Assessment Tool for QPHAs that choose to conduct and submit 
an AFH individually, or as part of a collaobartion with other QPHAs.
    At this time, HUD is not able to offer specific incentives to 
entities that choose to collaborate, but notes that doing so could 
provide for burden and cost reduction when completing an AFH. 
Additionally, collaboration could result in more robust goals to tackle 
the fair housing issues affecting the jurisdictions and regions of all 
program participants in the collaboration.

[[Page 64490]]

Specific Issues for Comment

1--Content of the Assessment Tool
    1a. Does the structure of adding a specific focus on PHA programs 
better facilitate the fair housing analysis PHAs must conduct, or 
should these questions be combined with the ``Other Publicly Supported 
Housing Programs'' subsection, using the structure that was similar to 
the Local Government Assessment Tool?
    Several commenters stated that the two new subsections in the tool 
would provide better data for accurately identifying fair housing need 
within the PHA's county. The commenters stated that PHAs have the 
knowledge within their agencies to provide data on program operations, 
development, and assisted residents within their jurisdiction. The 
commenters also stated that information would definitely benefit the 
overall fair housing analysis. The commenters also stated that the tool 
should be as detailed as possible because it will be the working 
template and ultimate document that PHAs, residents, and advocates will 
be working with on a frequent, operational basis. The commenters stated 
that the assessment tool, along with detailed guidance, providing 
direction echoing the final rule would minimize the need for 
stakeholders to toggle between the final rule, guidance, and the tool. 
A commenter agreed with these commenters and stated that many of the 
questions should also be included in the local government tool.
    A commenter stated that the tool does a good job focusing on all 
aspects of housing in a community, taking into account issues of 
segregation, concentrated areas of poverty, opportunity areas, 
transportation, health, education, disability services, and more. The 
commenter stated that while some items do not apply to its location and 
other items could be added, the tool overall is successfully arranged 
and allows for the input of local information, recognizing that not 
every community is the same. The commenter stated that assessment 
completed well and completely will be a meaningful document that PHAs 
can use to AFFH in their communities.
    Another commenter expressed agreement with HUD's decision to 
include separate subsections because these programs raise different 
fair housing issues. The commenter stated that a PHA has considerable 
discretion in public housing admissions while its role as administrator 
of the Section 8 program limits its ability to affect private owner's 
rentals. The commenter stated that, although a PHA may urge voucher 
holders to see housing in areas of opportunity, it cannot ordinarily 
compel a private owner to rent to a voucher holder, so it is important 
to assess both of these programs separately from a fair housing 
planning perspective. Other commenters stated that there is significant 
overlap in the questions asked in these sections and HUD should 
revaluate both and consider condensing into one. One of the commenters 
stated that HUD must not add questions to the tool but should instead 
remove questions that are irrelevant to PHA's authorities, 
jurisdictions, and capacities, and streamline the tool.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments relating to whether 
the PHA's program should be analyzed separately from the other publicly 
supported housing programs included in the Assessment Tool. At this 
time, HUD has decided to keep these two subsections separate to best 
facilitate the analysis for PHAs with respect to their programs. 
Additionally, HUD notes that in order to set appropriate and meaningful 
fair housing goal, PHAs must assess issues over which they may not have 
control in order to fully understand what fair housing issues are 
present, what contributing factors are present, and how the PHA can 
best overcome them.
    1b. Will conducting the new ``Fair Housing Analysis of Rental 
Housing'' for all PHAs result in a more robust analysis of fair housing 
in the PHA's service area and region, even for PHAs that only 
administer public housing? Should this section only apply to PHAs that 
administer HCVs?
    Commenters stated that a small PHA that has only an HCV program 
will not benefit from the tool and will not ultimately provide better 
services/opportunities for low-income families. A commenter stated that 
one of the most significant barriers to affirmatively furthering fair 
housing is the Fair Market Rent (FMR) system in which HUD's FMR is 
defined as the dollar amount below which 40 percent of the standard-
quality rental housing units are rented in an area. The commenter 
stated that by definition, this limits the areas where HCV participants 
can move and confines them to areas where there may be fewer standard-
quality rental housing. Another commenter stated that for PHAs 
operating public housing only their properties are where they are and 
were sited with HUD approval. The commenter stated that until federal 
resources become available for development or recapitalization of 
deeply affordable housing, a robust analysis will have no outcomes of 
interest. The commenter stated that PHAs may already have deep 
knowledge of the rental housing in their communities although a PHA may 
not meet HUD's data standards or formats. The commenter stated that HUD 
already has knowledge of Federally supported assisted housing 
properties. A commenter agrees since PHAs that only administer public 
housing have only fixed units so the utility of doing an analysis of 
the surrounding renal market is negligible.
    Other commenters stated that to better define and provide accurate 
information for a Fair Housing Analysis of Rental Housing in a PHA's 
service area, there should be data collection for both public housing 
and HCV. The commenters stated that, in some cases, the PHA administers 
both programs with the HCV units outnumbering PH units, and that HCVs 
can be used anywhere within the jurisdiction of the county and by 
analyzing both programs, the data will show where is a need to increase 
fair housing opportunities. The commenters stated that requiring PHAs 
that only administer public housing to complete this is consistent with 
other sections of the AFH that may not directly relate to public 
housing specifically, doing so is informative to the rest of the 
analysis and may further inform identification of contributing factors, 
and asking these PHAs to answer five additional questions is not an 
undue burden. Another commenter stated that the request to ``describe 
how rental housing, including affordable rental housing in the service 
area and region, has changed over time'' in this section should be 
removed since the utility gained is marginal. The commenter stated that 
change in affordable rental housing over time is not nearly as 
important as the current status of the market and location of rental 
housing, and the time spent answering this question will be excessive.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments related to the fair 
housing analysis of rental housing subsection. HUD has decided that the 
section will apply only to PHAs that administer Section 8 Housing 
Choice Vouchers. HUD will continue to consider comments and suggestions 
for improving this section of the analysis that was intended to be 
tailored specifically to inform PHA program operations.
    1c. Has HUD identified the most relevant contributing factors for 
PHAs for purposes of conducting a fair housing assessment and setting 
fair housing goals and priorities?
    Several commenters affirmed that HUD had identified the relevant

[[Page 64491]]

contributing factors for PHAs. A commenter stated that it ``firmly 
believes the new contributing factors added by HUD for the fair housing 
analysis are excellent.'' Another commenter stated that these are the 
main questions that need to be answered as to why housing options can 
be limited for voucher holders and the need to expand housing options 
to low-income people.
    A commenter recommended adding the following contributing factors 
to ensure PHAs consider the same major barriers to opportunity for 
people with disabilities as for other protected classes: Community 
opposition; Location and type of affordable housing; Occupancy codes 
and restrictions; Private discrimination; Access to financial services; 
Access to federally qualified health clinics and other healthcare 
settings often used by low-income individuals; Availability, type, 
frequency and reliability of public transportation; Lack of state, 
regional or other intergovernmental cooperation; Admissions and 
occupancy policies and procedures including preferences in publicly 
supported housing; Impediments to mobility; Lack of private investment 
in specific areas within the State; Lack of public investment in 
specific areas within the State including services and amenities; 
Siting selection policies, practices and decisions for publicly 
supported housing; Source of income discrimination; Access to schools 
that are accessible to students and parents with disabilities and 
proficient in educating students with disabilities in integrated 
classrooms; Access to employment opportunities; Access to low poverty 
areas; Access to environmentally healthy areas within the PHA. Another 
commenter expressed concern that the contributing factor in Section 7 
regarding access to proficient schools for persons with disabilities 
will be interpreted to refer to segregated schools for individuals with 
disabilities, and suggests it be revised to read: Access to schools 
that are accessible to students and parents with disabilities and 
proficient in educating students with disabilities in integrated 
classrooms. The commenter stated that for each set of CFs, add ``local 
governments or the state unwilling to promote source of income 
legislation, or poor enforcement where source of income ordinances 
exist.'' The commenter further made the following recommendations: For 
the segregation and R/ECAP CFs, add: Impediments to mobility, 
impediments to portability, policies related to payment standards, FMR, 
and rent subsidies; for ``Publicly Supported Housing'' add: ``past and 
present'' to the site selection factor after asking for ``policies, 
practices, and decisions,'' and ``displacement of residents due to 
economic pressures, causing landlords to exit the HCV or Section 8 
Programs.'' Another commenter stated that it believes the new 
contributing factors (such as restriction on landlords accepting 
vouchers, impediments to portability, policies related to payment 
standards, FMR, rent subsidies, etc.) in the Publicly Supported Housing 
section are appropriate because they are related to housing. The 
commenter stated that HUD should add ``complexity of federal 
regulations'' as a contributing factor since this one of the primary 
reasons that many landlords do not participate in the HCV program. The 
commenter stated that PHAs should be asked directly the extent to which 
they are contributing to segregation and concentration of poverty in 
the service area and region (in the initial CF section on page 3), even 
though PHAs are already required to do this to truthfully certify that 
they are eligible for federal funds. The commenter stated that HUD 
should require analysis of data and certain types of laws and policies 
that impact homeless and high need populations as part of the factors 
that contribute to segregation/integration, R/ECAPs, disparities in 
access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs because these 
laws and policies that criminalize homelessness and zoning or other 
regulatory laws facilitate segregation. The commenter further 
recommended the following: ``Access to public space for people 
experiencing homelessness'' should be added as a contributing factor; 
HUD should create a factor that mirrors ``regulatory barriers to 
providing housing and supportive services for persons with 
disabilities'' to address laws that restrict or allow provision of 
services to persons experiencing homelessness; add ``nuisance laws''; 
add ``reliance on eviction history to make acceptance decisions.''
    A commenter stated that contributing factors should be modified so 
they are more closely tied to an analysis that is relevant for PHAs. 
The commenter stated that the reference to vouchers in the community 
opposition should be expanded to include opposition to proposed 
measures to prohibit source of income discrimination. The commenter 
stated that the description for ``lack of regional cooperation'' should 
reference any existing failure among PHAs within a region to cooperate 
in facilitating the portability of HCV holders who seek to relocate 
from the jurisdiction of one PHA to another, or the ``impediments to 
mobility'' and to ``portability'' should be included in the sections 
focusing on R/ECAPs, segregation, and disproportionate housing needs. 
The commenter further stated that the ``location and type of affordable 
housing'' description should reference the location of HCV households.
    A commenter stated that impediments to portability should include 
reference to the fact that family members can be terminated from the 
voucher program upon moving to a new jurisdiction based on a member's 
criminal history record. The commenter recommended that HUD should add, 
``policies related to payment standards, FMR, and rent subsidies'' for 
both segregation and R/ECAPs. The commenter stated that the description 
of this contributing factor should include reference to PHA policies 
and practices regarding rent reasonableness determinations in the 
context of the Voucher program. The commenter requested that the 
``restrictions on landlords accepting vouchers'' contributing factors 
should be re-named ``Barriers imposed upon Landlords who wish to rent 
to Voucher holders.''
    Another commenter expressed support for the addition of the three 
new contributing factors in disparities in access to opportunity. The 
commenter stated that low FMRs and payment standards in costly rental 
markets can prohibit mobility and portability so this should be 
reflected in the definitions of ``impediments to portability and 
``policies related to payment standards, FMR, and rent subsidies.'' The 
commenter made the following recommendations: That HUD add to the 
disparities in access to opportunity contributing factors--source of 
income discrimination, lack of job training programs, and lack of 
affordable childcare; HUD add to the disproportionate housing needs 
contributing factors--involuntary displacement of survivors of domestic 
violence, source of income discrimination, high housing costs on the 
private market, and policies related to payment standards, FMR and rent 
subsidies; for the disabilities and access section, add ``failure to 
provide reasonable accommodations as a new contributing factor with its 
own description instead of just referenced in the ``private 
discrimination'' factor; add the following possible contributing 
factors to the Publicly Supported Housing Analysis section: (1) Lack of 
meaningful language access; (2) Discrimination against LGBT

[[Page 64492]]

individuals and families; (3) Lack of safe, affordable housing options 
for survivors of domestic violence; and (4) Displacement of residents 
due to economic pressures (existing contributing factor appearing in 
other analysis sections of the Draft PHA Tool). The commenter stated 
that the description for the contributing factor ``Land Use and Zoning 
laws'' lists inclusionary zoning alongside policies which can be used 
to limit housing choice which is confusing, so it should read ``lack of 
inclusionary zoning practices'' instead.
    Several commenters stated that the contributing factors analysis 
should be removed from the tool. The commenters stated that it is not 
possible to answer these questions with statistical validity on the 
relationship between possible contributing factors and the impact on 
fair housing issues. They said that this will result in highly 
speculative and subjective answers. Another commenter suggested leaving 
this for local governments instead of PHAs. The commenter stated that 
PHAs have no influence on local zoning or planning policies. A 
commenter stated that unless the PHA works in collaboration with a 
municipal or state partner, analyzing these factors may be of limited 
utility. Another commenter stated that the tool should only suggest 
contributing factors that are housing-related because other ones are 
outside of the PHA's expertise.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the commenters' 
recommendations relating to contributing factors. HUD has added several 
new contributing factors, ``lack of public and private investment in 
specific neighborhoods'' (previously two separate factors, and includes 
access to santition services, among others), ``nuisance laws,'' ``lack 
of meaningful language access,'' ``lack of access to opportunity due to 
high housing costs'' and ``lack of job training programs''.'' HUD has 
also included certain contributing factors that were previously listed 
in other sections of the Assessment Tool in the Disability and Access 
section. HUD has added to some of the existing descriptions of 
contributing factors, including language related to homelessness, 
domestic violence, environmental health (i.e., safe and clean drinking 
water) lack of source of income protections, and FMRs or other payment 
standards.
    HUD again notes that in order to best understand the fair housing 
issues affecting the PHA's service area and region, PHAs must take a 
holistic approach in analyzing their fair housing landscape in order to 
set appropriate goals that will allow the PHA to take meaningful 
actions that affirmatively further fair housing. This approach includes 
the identification of contributing factors that are creating, 
contributing to, perpetuating, or increasing the severity of one or 
more fair housing issues in the PHA's service area and region. HUD 
acknowledges that PHAs may not be able to overcome all contributing 
factors due to their limited scope of operations and resources; 
however, PHAs must still have an understanding of those contributing 
factors in order to set goals for overcoming the related fair housing 
issues.
    1d. Does the reordering of the sections, so that Disability and 
Access comes before the analysis of Publicly Supported Housing better 
facilitate the PHA's fair housing analysis?
    A commenter stated that by reordering the sections so that 
Disability and Access comes before the analysis of Publicly Supported 
Housing, it will benefit HUD to show where this type of housing is 
needed and if the PHA's provide sufficient housing options for the 
disabled population, but another commenter expressed a firm no to this 
question.
    Another commenter stated that HUD needs to add additional questions 
to the Disability and Access section of the Tool to facilitate the 
PHA's fair housing analysis. The commenter stated that HUD regulations 
at 24 CFR part 8 require programmatic access to HUD assisted housing 
and 24 CFR 8.25(c) requires PHAs to assess the need for accessible 
units. The commenter stated that HUD should add questions to ascertain 
that the PHA has met the specific requirements of these sections, 
including asking related to whether data provided by HUD indicates that 
people with disabilities have equal access to PHA programs, whether the 
PHA completed a needs assessment and transition plan, whether the PHA 
has a written accommodation policy, whether the PHA makes its 
application process accessible, whether the PHA encourages 
participation by owners, whether PHAs provide a list of accessible 
units to families receiving a voucher when a family member has 
disabilities, and whether the PHA requires applicants who do not 
require the accessibility features of a unit to sign an agreement to 
move to a non-accessible unit when available.
    Other commenters stated that under the Integration of Persons with 
Disabilities Living in Institutions and Other Segregated Setting 
section, HUD should include the following: under Question 3c, 
``describe any pending or settled Olmstead-related law suits, 
settlements or Olmstead initiatives not involving litigation''; 
Question C(2) should include a question about PHA compliance with the 
requirement to provide effective communication to persons who 
experience disabilities, and the question should read, ``How do PHA 
personnel and building staff engage in effective communication with 
applicants and residents who experience disabilities?'' The commenter 
stated that the accompanying instructions should ask the PHA to answer 
this question using any available local data or local knowledge, and 
that Question C(2) should include a question about wait list times for 
accessible units that are administered by the PHA, which should read as 
follows: Is there a wait list for units accessible to people with 
different types of disabilities? If so, describe the average wait times 
for each type of accessible unit.'' The commenter stated that the 
accompanying instructions should ask the PHA to answer this question 
using any available local data or local knowledge.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the recommendations of the commenters 
related to the Disability and Access section of the Assessment Tool. 
Currently, HUD has left the ordering of the sections unchanged, and the 
Disability and Access section will continue to precede the Publicly 
Supported Housing section of the analysis.
    HUD has added two questions to the housing accessibility subsection 
of the Disability and Access section, which both relate to how PHAs and 
their staffs engage with persons with disabilities and how waiting list 
policies affect persons with disabilities, including preferences, 
program selection, placement determination, application method, length 
of time the application window is open, and the average wait list time.

2--Identifying PHA Service Areas

    2a. HUD seeks comment on an efficient manner in which HUD could use 
to obtain information about each PHA's service area without causing 
unnecessary burden.
    A commenter stated that as long as the information in the AFFH Data 
and Mapping Tool is kept up-to-date and is accurately tracked, the 
commenter believes it can provide the information without too much 
stress on the agency, though it cannot speak for other agencies. The 
commenter stated that a reduction of funding has caused stress on 
agencies and possible staff agencies could cause unnecessary burdens to 
smaller authorities. Other commenters stated that regional analysis 
should be

[[Page 64493]]

optional for PHAs with large service areas operating in rural areas. 
One of the commenters stated that PHA operates in 29 counties, 
sometimes in non-contiguous areas, and that, in addition, through the 
Project Access Program which utilizes up to 140 of the commenter's HCVs 
to assist persons with disabilities who are exiting institutions or 
avoiding re-institutionalization, the PHA operates outside of those 29 
jurisdiction areas because individuals assisted with this program can 
locate outside of those areas but are generally transferred to and 
absorbed (``ported'') by the local PHA that does have jurisdiction for 
that area.
    Another commenter sought guidance on how a PHA whose service area 
is most of the state should be analyzed--for the State as a whole or 
for jurisdictions in which it operates. A commenter stated that 
regional analyses are overly burdensome and irrelevant because PHAs do 
not exercise influence over these broad areas, and it is even more 
complex for agencies outside of a core based statistical area or CBSAs 
or regions that cross state borders. The commenter stated that the 
regional analysis should be removed.
    A commenter stated that many PHAs operate in jurisdictions that are 
not equivalent to Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and that are 
also not identical to city or county borders. The commenter stated 
that, instead, these service areas are defined by State statute and are 
based on a variety of factors in addition to political boundaries. The 
commenter stated that HUD should explicitly defer to PHAs' selection of 
the most relevant dataset for their needs if HUD cannot provide all of 
the necessary data. A commenter stated that HUD field offices should 
facilitate collection of this data.
    Another commenter stated that for agencies chartered by States, 
service areas correspond to jurisdictions and the alternative 
terminology HUD uses may be confusing. A commenter stated that HUD has 
indicated that it will require a single submission for agencies 
describing their jurisdiction. The commenter stated that it is 
surprising that HUD lacks a record of jurisdictions since HUD has 
conducted business with HAs since 1937, and these institutions may own 
properties subsidized by HUD and execute ACCs.
    A commenter stated that HUD should use its own records to establish 
agencies' jurisdictions and permit PHA's to submit any necessary 
corrections to those jurisdictions on an exception basis, since 
requiring all agencies to submit this information will require almost 2 
person years of time to complete, even though HUD has estimated that 
this task will consume 1 hour of administrative time.
    Commenters stated that HUD should add a section titled ``Service 
Area'' and ask PHAs to describe its service area using readily 
identifiable indicators such as geographic boundaries and the census 
tracts that roughly approximate the geographic boundaries. The 
commenters stated that PHAs should also briefly explain how State law 
determines the size and scope of PHA service areas with a citation to 
relevant legal authority under State law. The commenters stated that 
since there is no uniform means by which PHA service areas are 
determined, stakeholders who are assessing the adequacy of a PHA's AFH 
would benefit from an understanding of how a specific PHA's area is 
defined.
    Other commenters stated that HUD should ask PHAs for this 
information directly, separate and apart from the AFH in a uniform 
format the permits GIS mapping. The commenters stated that the data 
received through the AFH should be entered into a national database. 
The commenters also stated that a ``service area'' definition should 
also be requested in the AFH.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates all of the feedback it received 
related to how HUD could obtain information about each PHA's service 
area. HUD notes that a regional analysis is required for a fair housing 
analysis, and therefore it cannot be made optional for PHAs. As noted 
above, HUD intends to provide data that PHAs will use to conduct their 
AFH. HUD acknowledges that PHAs' service areas are determined by State 
legislation and their scope may vary. HUD does not currently have data 
for all PHAs' service areas. In order to provide data to assist PHAs in 
conducting their AFH, HUD will need to obtain information about each 
PHA's service area in order to provide relevant data to the PHA.
    HUD will provide an online geospatial tool, either in the existing 
AFFH Data and Mapping Tool (AFFHT) or in a related online web portal 
that will provide PHAs the ability to select from a variety of 
geographic units, the one unit or combination of units that most 
closely fits their service area. Geographic units include the most 
commonly used administrative geographic units mapped by the U.S. Census 
Bureau. These may include geographic entities such as census tracts, 
incorporated places or minor civil divisions (collectively known to HUD 
as units of general local government), entire counties, the balance of 
counties after incorporated entities have been removed, entire states, 
or the balance of states after incorporated local government 
jurisdictions have been removed. In many cases, PHA service areas will 
be the same as local governments that are already identified in the 
AFFHT, while in others PHAs would have the ability to identify their 
unique service area borders using the online tool. Specific 
solicitation of comment: HUD seeks comment on an efficient manner in 
which HUD could use to obtain information about each PHA's service area 
without causing unnecessary burden.
    HUD intends to provide PHAs with additional guidance on how to 
analyze their service areas and regions, with respect to the scope of 
each at a later date. HUD is evaluating the feasibility of obtaining 
the geographic location of each PHA's service area from the PHA 
directly, but notes that if it were to do so, would undergo the proper 
procedures for information collection under the Paperwork Reduction 
Act. HUD understands that each PHA covers a different geography and 
that each State's law authorizes the PHAs' operations differently. HUD 
will take this into account when obtaining the services areas of PHAs.

3--PHA Wait Lists

    3a. HUD seeks comment on how fair housing issues may affect 
families on a PHA's waiting list.
    A commenter stated that most, if not all, housing authority 
developments exist in impacted areas so any waiting list applicant 
could be greatly impacted. Another commenter opposed the inclusion of 
data from families on the waiting list in completing the AFH since, as 
the commenter stated, this information has not been verified and is 
limited, which, according to the commenter makes it difficult to make 
assumptions about any relevant factors related to the AFH. The 
commenter stated that some data is available for individuals on the 
waiting list, but questioned the relevancy as those on the list may 
need to wait years and circumstances may change. The commenter stated 
that HUD should clarify the purpose it feels this serves. Another 
commenter stated that it does not believe that analyzing individuals on 
the waiting list will yield useful information in fair housing planning 
because the demand for affordable and federally assisted housing far 
exceeds the supply and families may be unable to move for reasons other 
than the PHAs action or inaction.

[[Page 64494]]

    A commenter stated that certain types of tenant selection and 
waiting list management policies can have a discriminatory impact on 
persons in protected classes by making it more difficult for out of 
town families to gain admission or by creating barriers to people with 
disabilities.
    HUD Response: HUD thanks the commenters for their feedback. HUD 
agrees that it is important to analyze waiting list policies in order 
to have a better understanding of their impact on fair housing. 
Therefore, HUD believes that an analysis of the PHA's policies, 
practices, and procedures related to its application and waiting list 
process is necessary so that the PHA can set appropriate goals to 
ensure that these practices promote fair housing choice for all.
    3b. Do PHAs have relevant information related to these families? To 
what extent to PHAs have information to inform answers to the questions 
related to families on PHA waiting lists?
    Commenters stated that applicants apply for housing based on their 
desire to live in a specific area for a number of reasons, and data 
collected from the waiting list may not give all the needed information 
to provide an accurate analysis for fair housing. A commenter stated 
that PHAs do not have historic waiting list data (data beyond the 
record retention period).
    A commenter stated that PHAs have data on households on waiting 
lists that include household members, disability status, student 
status, race, and ethnicity. Another commenter stated that a PHA 
program operates with multiple waiting lists. Other commenters stated 
that PHAs do not treat waiting list data uniformly and have different 
amounts of information and may verify at different times.
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the information provided by these 
commenters and has taken it into consideration.
    3c. Is HUD asking the appropriate questions with regard to this 
population or are there alternative considerations PHAs should be asked 
to consider as part of the analysis?
    Commenters stated that to consider alternative considerations in 
analyzing fair housing, a question may be needed as to where the 
applicant wants to live and if there is sufficient housing options in 
this area. Another commenter stated that any analysis should note that 
the waiting list household data is self-reported and not verified by 
PHA staff. Other commenters stated that HUD should ask if the PHA 
requires in-person applications at the PHA office or if applications 
can be obtained by mail or online or at multiple locations. The 
commenters stated that HUD should ask the following questions: Are 
applications only accepted online? Does the PHA use a first-come first 
served waiting list, or a lottery to determine placement on the waiting 
list? Does the PHA keep the waiting list open for a long enough time to 
permit applicants from outside the service area to apply? Are there any 
local preferences for program admission, and if so, please list the 
preferences? Is there a local residency preference? How does the PHA 
make information available to people with limited English proficiency, 
and what accommodations it makes for people with disabilities?
    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the feedback from these commenters. 
HUD notes that the contributing factor of ``admissions and occupancy 
policies and procedures, including preferences in publicly supported 
housing,'' includes many of the suggestions made by commenters above. 
HUD has also included a question relating to the waiting list with 
respect to persons with disabilities in the disability and access 
section of the Assessment Tool. In addition, HUD has removed references 
to waitlist analysis in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity 
Section.

V. Overview of Information Collection

    Under the PRA, HUD is required to report the following:
    Title of Proposal: Assesemnt Tool for Public Housing Agencies.
    OMB Control Number, if applicable: N/A.
    Description of the need for the information and proposed use: The 
purpose of HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) final 
rule is to provide HUD program participants with a more effective 
approach to fair housing planning so that they are better able to meet 
their statutory duty to affirmatively further fair housing. In this 
regard, the final rule requires HUD program participants to conduct and 
submit an AFH. In the AFH, program participants must identify and 
evaluate fair housing issues, and factors significantly contributing to 
fair housing issues (contributing factors) in the program participant's 
jurisdiction and region.
    The PHA Assessment Tool is the standardized document designed to 
aid PHA program participants in conducting the required assessment of 
fair housing issues and contributing factors and priority and goal 
setting. The assessment tool asks a series of questions that program 
participants must respond to in carrying out an assessment of fair 
housing issues and contributing factors, and setting meaningful fair 
housing goals and priorities to overcome them.
    Agency form numbers, if applicable: Not applicable.
    Members of affected public: PHAs of which there are approximately 
3,942.
    Estimation of the total numbers of hours needed to prepare the 
information collection including number of respondents, frequency of 
response, and hours of response: HUD has made a number of revisions to 
its burden estimate based on both public feedback received during the 
60-Day public comment period as well as a number of key changes made by 
HUD in response to public comment.
    The public reporting burden for the PHA Assessment Tool is 
estimated to include the time for reviewing the instructions, searching 
existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and 
completing and reviewing the collection of information. Information on 
the estimated public reporting burden is provided in the following 
table:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Estimated
                                                   Number of                       average time      Estimated
   Type of respondent  (lead       Number of     responses per    Frequency of          for        total burden
 entity or joint participant)     respondents     respondent        response        requirement     (in hours)
                                                                                    (in hours)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PHA Assessment Tool:
    PHA as Lead Entity........             814               1  814.............             240         195,360
    PHA as Joint Participant..           * 400               1  400.............             120          48,000
                               ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Subtotal..............        ** 1,214  ..............  ................  ..............         243,360

[[Page 64495]]

 
PHA Service Area Information..           3,942               1  Once per                       1           3,942
                                                                 Assessment of
                                                                 Fair Housing
                                                                 cycle.
                               ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total Burden..........  ..............  ..............  ................  ..............     *** 247,302
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* The estimate of 400 PHAs opting to submit AFHs acting as joint participants with other PHAs using this PHA
  Assessment Tool, includes an estimated 300 QPHAs and 100 Non-QPHAs. The estimate of 300 QPHAs is based on the
  new addition of a streamlined QPHA ``insert'' that is intended to facilitate collaboration by these small
  agencies. The estimate of 100 Non-QPHAs in this category is based on the likelihood of such collaborations
  occurring primarily in larger metropolitan areas. The latter estimate does not significantly change the
  overall total estimate burden.
** The total estimate of 1,214 PHAs that are assumed to use the PHA Assessment Tool is a modest decrease from
  the estimate of 1,314 agencies included in the 60-Day PRA Notice estimate. This change is explained in greater
  detail below.
*** The total estimate of 247,302 burden hours is a decrease from the estimate of 319,302 burden hours that was
  included in the 60-Day PRA Notice that was published on March 23, 2016. The decrease in the estimate is solely
  attributable to a change in the estimated number of PHAs that will use this assessment tool as lead entities
  with individual submissions, rather than due to any revision in the estimated amount of time to complete an
  AFH using the assessment tool. The reasons for the change in the estimated number of PHAs that are assumed to
  use the PHA Assessment Tool is described in further detail below.

Explanation of Revision in PHA Participation Estimates

    HUD is including the following information in the 30-Day PRA 
Notices for all three of the assessment tools that are currently 
undergoing public notice and comment. The information is intended to 
facilitate public review of HUD's burden estimates. HUD is revising its 
burden estimates for PHAs, including how many agencies will join with 
other entities (i.e. with State agencies, local governments, or with 
other PHAs), from the initial estimates included in the 60-Day PRA 
Notices for the three assessment tools. These revisions are based on 
several key changes and considerations:
    (1) HUD has added new option for QPHAs, to match the approach 
already presented in the State Assessment Tool as issued for the 60-Day 
PRA Notice, to facilitate joint partnerships with Local Governments or 
other PHAs using a streamlined ``insert'' assessment. Using this 
option, it is expected that the analysis of the QPHA's region would be 
met by the overall AFH submission, provided the QPHA's service area is 
within the jurisdictional and regional scope of the local government's 
Assessment of Fair Housing, with the QPHA responsible for answering the 
specific questions for its own programs and service area included in 
the insert.
    (2) HUD's commitment to issuing a separate assessment tool 
specifically for QPHAs that will be issued using a separate public 
notice and comment Paperwork Reduction Act process. This QPHA 
assessment tool would be available as an option for these agencies to 
submit an AFH rather than using one of the other assessment tools. HUD 
assumes that many QPHAs would take advantage of this option, 
particularly those QPHAs that may not be able to enter into a joint or 
regional collaboration with another partner. HUD is committing to 
working with QPHAs in the implementation of the AFFH Rule. This 
additional assessment tool to be developed by HUD with public input 
will be for use by QPHAs opting to submit an AFH on their own or with 
other QPHAs in a joint collaboration.
    (3) Public feedback received on all three assessment tools combined 
with refinements to the HUD burden estimate. Based on these 
considerations, HUD has refined the estimate of PHAs that would be 
likely to enter into joint collaborations with potential lead entities. 
In general, PHAs are estimated to be most likely to partner with a 
local government, next most likely to join with another PHA and least 
likely to join with a State agency. While all PHAs, regardless of size 
or location are able and encouraged to join with State agencies, for 
purposes of estimating burden hours, the PHAs that are assumed to be 
most likely to partner with States are QPHAs that are located outside 
of CBSAs. Under these assumptions, approximately one-third of QPHAs are 
estimated to use the QHPA template that will be developed by HUD 
specifically for their use (as lead entities and/or as joint 
participants), and approximately two-thirds are estimated to enter into 
joint partnerships using one of the QPHA streamlined assessment 
``inserts'' available under the three existing tools. These estimates 
are outlined in the following table:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   QPHA outside     QPHA inside
                                                       CBSA            CBSA         PHA (non-Q)        Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PHA Assessment Tool:
    (PHA acting as lead entity).................  ..............  ..............             814             814
    Joint partner using PHA template............  ..............             300             100             400
Local Government Assessment Tool (# of PHA joint  ..............             900             200           1,100
 collaborations)................................
State Assessment Tool (# of PHA joint                        665  ..............  ..............             665
 collaborations)................................
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
        Subtotal................................             665           1,200           1,114           2,979
QPHA template...................................             358             605  ..............             963
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
            Total...............................         * 1,023         * 1,805  ..............        ** 3,942
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* These totals (1,023 and 1,805 QPHAs) are the total number of QPHAs that are located inside and outside of
  CBSAs.
** The total of 3,942 represents all PHAs, not the sum of QPHAs (i.e. this is the total for this vertical
  column, not the horizontal row across).


[[Page 64496]]

Solicitation of Comment Required by the PRA

    In accordance with 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), HUD is specifically 
soliciting comment from members of the public and affected program 
participants on the Assessment Tool on the following:
    (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for 
the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including 
whether the information will have practical utility;
    (2) The accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the 
proposed collection of information;
    (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
    (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate 
automated collection techniques or other forms of information 
technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.
    (5) Are there other ways in which HUD can further tailor this 
Assessment Tool for use by PHAs? If so, please provide specific 
recommendations for how particular questions may be re-worded while 
still conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis, or questions that 
are not relevant for conducting a meaningful fair housing analysis, or 
other specific suggestions that will reduce burden for PHAs while still 
facilitating the required fair housing analysis.
    (6) Whether HUD should include any other contributing factors or 
amend any of the descriptions of the contributing factors to more 
accurately assess fair housing issues affecting PHAs' service areas and 
regions. If so, please provide any other factors that should be 
included or any additional language for the contributing factor 
description for which changes are recommended.
    (7) Whether the inclusion of the ``insert'' for Qualified PHAs 
(QPHAs) will facilitate collaboration QPHAs and non-qualified PHAs, and 
whether these entities anticipate collaborating to conduct and submit a 
joint AFH. Please note any changes to these inserts that (a) would 
better facilitate collaboration; (b) provide for a more robust and 
meaningful fair housing analysis; and (c) encourage collaboration among 
these program participants that do not anticipate collaborating at this 
time.
    (8) Whether HUD's change to the structure and content of the 
questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section with 
respect to the protected class groups that PHAs must analyze is 
sufficiently clear and will yield a meaningful fair housing analysis. 
Additionally, HUD specifically solicits comment on whether an 
appropriate fair housing analysis can and will be conducted if the 
other protected class groups are assessed only in the ``Additional 
Information'' question at the end of the section, as opposed to in each 
subsection and question in the larger Disparities in Access to 
Opportunity section. HUD also requests comment on whether it would be 
most efficient for PHAs to have the protected class groups specified in 
each question in this section. If so, please provide an explanation. 
Alternatively, HUD requests comment on whether each subsection within 
the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section should include an 
additional question related to disparities in access to the particular 
opportunity assessed based on all of the protected classes under the 
Fair Housing Act.
    (9) What sources of local data or local knowledge do PHAs 
anticipate using with respect to their analysis? Please specify which 
sections of the Assessment Tool PHAs anticipate using local data and 
local knowledge. For example, what sources of local data or local 
knowledge, including information obtained through the community 
participation process and any consultation with other relevant 
governmental agencies, do PHAs anticipate using for the service area as 
compared to the region regarding disparities in access to opportunity? 
Are there any different sources of local data or local knowledge for 
the question on disparities in access to opportunity in the publicly 
supported housing section?
    (10) Whether the instructions to the Assessment Tool provide 
sufficient detail to assist PHAs in responding to the questions in the 
Assessment Tool. If not, please provide specific recommendations of 
areas that would benefit from further clarity.
    (11) How can HUD best facilitate the anlaysis PHAs must conduct 
with repsect to disparities in access to opportunity? For example, are 
questions based on the overall service area and region of the various 
opportunity indicators the best way for PHAs to identify access to 
opportunity with respect to their residents, including voucher holders? 
With regards to disparities in access to opportunity, how might the PHA 
identify contributing factors and set goals for overcoming disparities 
in access to opportunity?
    (12) What additional guidance would be useful to PHAs to assist in 
conducting the fair housing analysis in the Assessment Tool? In 
particular, which fair housing issues and contributing factors would 
benefit from additional guidance? For example, in the disparities in 
access to opportunity section, what guidance would PHAs benefit from?
    (13) In the publicly supported housing section, there are several 
questions related to assisted housing programs that are not owned or 
operated by the PHA. Are these questions sufficiently clear, or would 
additional instructions beyond those that are provided be helpful to 
PHAs in answering these questions? Are there other or different 
questions that would facilitate the PHAs' analyses of publicly 
supported housing, specifically for the other categories of publicly 
supported housing included in this Assessment Tool?
    (14) There have been new questions added to the Disability and 
Access Analysis section, under ``Housing Accessibility'' (Questions 
2(d) and 2(e)). Are these questions sufficiently clear, or would 
additional instructions beyond those that are provided be helpful to 
PHAs in answering these questions? Are there other or different 
questions that would facilitate the PHAs' analyses of disability, 
specifically related to housing accessibility?
    (15) Are there other ways HUD can clarify the questions in the 
Assessment Tool, for example, through the provision of additional 
instructions, or different instrcutinos from those that have been 
provided? Additionally, are there other or different questions or 
instructions that would better assist State PHAs in conducting their 
fair housing analysis? Please specify whether a particular section, 
question, or set of instructions requires clarification. HUD encourages 
not only program participants but interested persons to submit comments 
regarding the information collection requirements in this proposal. 
Comments must be received by October 20, 2016 to www.regulations.gov as 
provided under the ADDRESSES section of this notice. Comments must 
refer to the proposal by name and docket number (FR-5173-N-09-A). HUD 
encourages interested parties to submit comment in response to these 
questions.

    Dated: September 14, 2016.
Inez C. Downs,
Department Reports Management Officer, Office of the Chief Information 
Officer.
[FR Doc. 2016-22594 Filed 9-19-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4210-67-P