City of Philadelphia and PHA Release Assessment of Fair Housing

Philadelphia, PA - October 27, 2016 - After hearing from thousands of residents, meeting with dozens of stakeholders and analyzing reams of data, the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Authority have released the City's 2016 Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH).  The release kicks off a public comment period that will end on Dec. 12, 2016.

Developing the AFH is a requirement under a 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule adopted by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The AFH is an analysis of fair housing issues, including access to opportunity, in the city.

"Listening to our neighbors has helped us to identify the challenges we face and strategies to address them," said Anne Fadullon, Director of the city's Office of Planning and Development. "People told us they want a balanced approach to housing and opportunity, and the AFH offers that approach."

Philadelphia will be the first large city to adopt an AFH under the new rule.  The deadline for PHA, however, was 2019.
PHA agreed to submit its AFH three years early to support a collaborative planning approach.

"Working together on the AFH is a collaborative way to identify the need to expand our limited public resources," said Kelvin A. Jeremiah, President and CEO of PHA.  "By collaborating on planning for fair housing, we can ensure that we are working together to expand opportunity."

The goal of the AFFH rule is to promote access to opportunity for all residents.  The AFH provides a framework for strategies and actions to overcome patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities.

The AFH also frames Philadelphia's challenges.  Nearly 250,000 households face at least one housing problem, such as unaffordable housing or overcrowding.  At the same time, federal housing funds for both PHA and the City have been declining.  The new AFFH rule does not bring new funding with it.

"It is clear that our funding won't meet our need," said Fadullon. "Our challenge is to work with partners to identify new strategies to address the housing and community needs of our residents."

The AFH also identified barriers beyond housing. Issues such as lack of education and job readiness contribute to significant areas of poverty and segregation in the city.

"We have a moral imperative to find new ways to strengthen our communities, provide affordable housing options to Philadelphians of all income levels, and improve and expand services to residents," said Jeremiah.  "It's not just about housing anymore: it's about creating access to opportunity and the means to use that access."

A significant change in the AFFH rule is the role of the public.  In the past, public engagement was brief and linked to a specific housing plan.  Under the new rule, public engagement is ongoing and will continue for five years.

The first step in that engagement was robust public outreach to gather resident input for the AFH.  The City and PHA conducted a survey that was completed by more than 5,000 residents, including 1,000 PHA residents.  They held five community focus groups, including one in Spanish and one for people with disabilities.

PHA held three "Resident Roundtables" for residents to offer input.  Finally, the City and PHA held stakeholder meetings to obtain input from professionals working on housing and other issues.

That public input, combined with analysis of HUD-provided data and data developed locally, contributed to the development of AFH goals, including:
• Expand fair housing outreach, education and enforcement
• Ensure open access to all housing resources and programs
• Preserve existing affordable rental housing
• Develop new affordable rental housing opportunities
• Preserve existing affordable homeownership
• Develop new affordable homeownership opportunities
• Expand accessible and affordable housing for persons with disabilities
• Expand permanent housing for homeless and special needs populations
• Use a coordinated approach to invest in struggling communities
• Enhance and expand resident mobility

"These goals support the balanced approach residents and stakeholders told us they want," said Jeremiah.  "We will invest in neighborhoods that need assistance and leverage assets in strong communities to expand the opportunities they offer."

The City is not starting from square one in addressing non-housing issues such as education and community amenities.

"Many of Mayor Kenney's initiatives are already tackling the issues we found in drafting the AFH," said Fadullon. "Creating community schools, expanding pre-K and facilitating improvements for neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries through the REBUILD initiative all promote equity and opportunity."

HUD supported development of the AFH by providing technical assistance. That technical assistance covered community participation and data analysis.

"The Fair Housing Act requires communities to actively promote equal opportunity and access to housing for all," said Jane C.W. Vincent, Regional Administrator of HUD's Mid-Atlantic region. "Today's release of the city's Assessment of Fair Housing is an important step in that direction."

The AFH Executive Summary is attached.  The full AFH is available at www.phila.gov/dhcd and www.pha.phila.gov.