FY 1998 - 2003 Strategic Plan
Strategic Objective #7

Promote equal housing opportunities for those protected by law.


As HUD fundamentally alters its organizational structure and reforms its management approach to administering its programs, it is essential to shape a new strategy for promoting equal housing opportunity for those the law protects against discrimination.

A new strategy must: (1) focus all discretionary elements2 of the fair housing program (human, financial and material resources) more effectively; and (2) measure their impact more precisely than before. The ability to measure outcomes in order to justify resources is more critical than ever in the context of shrinking budgets and staffing.

This new strategy for the deployment of discretionary program resources will replace approaches which have resulted in the spreading of scarce resources over widely dispersed areas of the country in an effort to battle discrimination and promote equal housing opportunity. Instead, resources must be more highly focused and better coordinated with each other in order to achieve a meaningful impact. They also must be coordinated with: (1) the other program areas of the Department; (2) with other Federal agencies, State and local governments; and (3) with the private sector, including not-for-profit and for profit housing, consumer and civil rights components.

The strategy which follows is a significant departure from previous approaches to fair housing. The four strategic components described below are designed to respond to the challenges of the Results Act, to maximize the effective use of the new FHEO structure of HUBs and Zones, and to make use of the HUD management reforms that distinguish between monitoring, auditing and enforcing on the one hand and furthering, facilitating, promoting and partnering on the other. In so doing, they are intended to increase the emphasis on "partnering" both within the Department and externally with HUD program recipients and those organizations and individuals who, whether recipients or not, have a major stake in helping to create a Nation of open communities.

The new strategy must be mindful of the fact that many disability rights organizations reported that the Department is funding a large number of townhouse developments (multi-story units) which are, by their nature, inaccessible to people with disabilities, and that it is not enough to just make the lower level of such units accessible. We have been asked to assure that multi-story townhouse developments integrate single-story units to meet the 5% accessibility requirements under Section 504 of the Rehabilitations Act of 1973.

The Department intends to promote equal housing opportunities by encouraging the "visitability" concept throughout the homeownership and other housing programs. The concept means that homes will have at least one entrance at grade (no step) and all doors contain 32" clear space.

HUD's efforts to promote equal housing opportunities go beyond enforcement. Discrimination is reality for many Americans, particularly the poor. HUD's programs and initiatives strive to provide housing, employment, and services to disadvantaged Americans, many of whom are ethnic minorities. Thus, HUD"s programs such as Section 8, CDBG, and HOME, which are targeted to the poor, necessarily have as their end the promotion of equal opportunity.

One America: Cracking Down on Housing Discrimination

To further the President's recently announced initiative on race, HUD proposes to double over the next four years the percentage of housing discrimination cases where enforcement action is taken. This step is vital to ensuring One America because the freedom and dignity of choosing where you live is a choice every American should have.


Demonstrate the impact of FHEO programs on expanding housing opportunities and addressing discrimination in measurable ways by concentrating program resources in a selected number of communities.

FHEO will develop criteria to select a fixed number of communities -- urban, suburban and rural -- in all of the ten HUBs that our program operates. These selections will be made to assure a reasonable representation of communities with a variety of geographic, demographic and program characteristics revealing civil rights problems so that they will be fairly representative of the diverse nature of fair housing program challenges nationwide. Such factors will be considered as: their degree of segregation; changing racial and other demographics; the presence or absence of private fair housing enforcement activity and certified State and local agencies; the extent, quality, and effectiveness of local fair housing planning; the existence of effective regional institutions; the extent of mortgage lending to minorities, and the nature of housing issues identified in the Analysis of Impediments.

The full range of FHEO enforcement, compliance and program activities (such as FHIP, FHAP, and voluntary programs) will be provided in these locations with the objective of reducing discrimiNation in housing and housing related services in those communities by application of a focused civil rights effort. The program will build upon the identification and analysis of impediments to fair housing and a community's plan to address them. Such actions are required by HUD for receipt of funding under the Department's major community development programs. The Office of FHEO will seek to work with communities to develop program approaches which will remove those impediments and to measure the real impact of those focused fair housing efforts.

Data baselines will be developed against which benchmarks can be measured over a ten year period to chart progress in achieving equal housing opportunity. The baselines will track the extent of such measures as: increases in mortgage lending to protected classes, the availability of property insurance and mortgages in minority and/or inner-city or lower income areas, the existence of units accessible to persons with disabilities, discrimination complaint levels, the incidence of discrimination in sales or rental of housing, the existence of inappropriate/inadequate housing choices for persons with disabilities, the existence of discriminatory zoning and land use regulations, the extent of segregation in public and assisted housing, and the removal of identified barriers to housing mobility and choice. Progress will be measured over the ten year period to determine the extent to which program components are successful in producing meaningful outcomes.

Expand in measurable ways the impact that HUD's programs and the housing and urban development-related programs of other Federal Departments and agencies have on housing opportunities by focusing Federal resources on promoting greater housing choice.

This objective is the key to the impact that HUD's housing and urban development programs will have on the success or failure of HUD's entire Strategic Plan. The extent to which HUD succeeds in any of its other strategic objectives will depend directly upon the degree to which it succeeds in its more focussed and coordinated approach to creating greater housing mobility and choice for all, especially lower income and minority families. Without such opportunities, the Department will be unable either to provide a continuum of housing and services to assist homeless individuals and families or to increase the availability of affordable housing to low-income and minority families to reduce their isolation.

Failure to achieve greater housing mobility and choice will also make impossible the empowerment and self-sufficiency of low-income individuals and families needing desperately to make the transition from welfare to work. This will also mean confining whatever homeownership opportunities they may have to the urban core where good jobs are scarce.

While HUD's programs have included civil rights related requirements for many years in its effort to meet its responsibility under the Fair Housing Act to affirmatively further fair housing in HUD programs, few meaningful measures exist to determine if these requirements have been effective and the extent to which they have achieved the desired result. This strategy component will seek to identify meaningful indicators of equal housing opportunity in each of HUD's program areas and to develop systems to measure their status. Data baselines will be sought for each program and progress will be measured at regular intervals through stronger internal HUD cooperation and sharing of existing data among HUD program areas. These should become cross-cutting performance measures and should be used to replicate program requirements where success is achieved and to examine the process and the substance of requirements where meaningful progress does not result.

Such indicators may include levels of segregation in HUD assisted housing and communities, existence of accessible and visitable units and other indicators developed with HUD program areas to measure the outcomes which demonstrate the extent to which their programs are providing housing choice.

FHEO will also forge new and stronger external partnerships with other Federal Departments and agencies, sharing and using existing data sources to the greatest extent possible and using the other Federal resources to increase the impact of fair housing requirements. Executive Order 12892 directs the Secretary of HUD to create and chair the President's Fair Housing Council, providing HUD with a vehicle to lead and partner with other key domestic departments to develop and deploy a more broad-based and comprehensive strategy for affirmatively furthering fair housing.

Partner with "stakeholders" in the chosen communities to seek and expand upon areas of common ground and shared interests in working toward the goals of equal housing opportunity and open communities.

FHEO will seek partnerships with civil rights, disability advocacy organizations, private fair housing groups; community-based institutions such as churches, temples, and neighborhood associations; housing industry groups such as mortgage lenders, property insurance providers, sales and rental housing-related associations and building code organizations; and State and local Government agencies such as real estate licensing agencies, social service agencies, and civil rights enforcement agencies, state attorneys general; even those having a stake in the outcomes FHEO seeks.

Where the potential outcomes are perceived positively, FHEO will work with those stakeholders to facilitate their involvement in achieving them. Where the outcomes are viewed with fear and suspicion, FHEO will seek through dialog and outreach to alter perceptions in a more positive and constructive direction.

Partner with HUD recipients and other housing-related public and private organizations to promote open communities.

FHEO will partner with a selected number of housing-related organizations and providers in the communities chosen in Component I above to include model partnerships that demonstrate successful joint efforts to reduce discriminatory practices and promote open communities.

This component is aimed at establishing a positive, facilitator-like relationship with the selected entities, through which HUD will be a cooperating partner in developing a shared model that can be applied in relationships with similar entities. A range of recipients (private developers, assisted housing managers, PHAs, etc) will be selected. Hallmarks of this partnership will be education, outreach, voluntary programs, best practices, technical assistance, etc., aimed at achieving pre-determined fair housing objectives that can be measured. For example, HUD could work with private multi-family providers to develop improved outreach and marketing approaches; to employ screening techniques that meet requirements of Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act to assure better matching of accessible units with persons with physical disabilities, to develop technical assistance materials which can be used nationally, etc. Successful results can be promoted by the partners to others in the same class.

FHEO will work closely with PIH to provide PHAs with additional flexibility and technical support in the chosen communities for demolition, modernization, vacancy consolidation and establishing site-based waiting lists and ceiling rents.

FHEO will work closely with FHA to provide greater flexibility and "workout" options for private owners and managers of "troubled" multifamily housing developments in the chosen communities to return them to decent, safe and sanitary conditions at affordable rents and increase their participation in Section 8 and regional opportunity counseling programs.

Program Evaluation

Twice in recent years, HUD has conducted major assessments of housing discrimination. These identify the basic outlines of the nature and extent of housing discrimination in America. HUD anticipates beginning another such study soon. Also related to this objective is a recent evaluation of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP). The Department has underway two important studies of the effects of assisted housing on neighborhood conditions and has recently completed an assessment of scattered site housing. Other related studies are on the characteristics of neighborhoods with Section 8 recipients, public housing projects, and HOME program developments. Additionally, HUD has just begun an assessment of the effects of public housing litigation settlements on racial deconcentration. Other recent related projects studied the characteristics of neighborhoods with Section 8 recipients, public housing projects, and HOME program developments.

Linkage to HUD 2020: Management Reform Plan

FHEO faces challenges in fragmented responsibilities and lack of accountability; duplication of Field Office oversight functions; inefficient separation of staff resources between enforcement and program/compliance; and inadequate use of technology.

To overcome these problems, FHEO will eliminate the separation between enforcement and program/compliance functions; cross-train staff, consolidate Field Office oversight and policy functions; integrate fair housing principles through HUD's other program areas; create mechanism to assure coordinated development and dissemination of uniform FHEO policy, regulations and public information; and make greater use of other area's technology.

Specifically, FHEO will consolidate existing organizations and employees and contract where appropriate with outside investigators, auditors and attorneys. Community Resource Representatives (See also Objective #1) will be trained in fair housing laws, issues surrounding Section 8 recipients, and other pertinent fair housing issues. A process will be established to ensure that fair housing compliance is included in assessing PHAs. Section 3 will be moved from FHEO to the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, to take advantage of greater expertise in economic development and procurement.

To streamline existing front-end reviews, other program areas will expand their current application procedures to include routine front end-reviews now performed by FHEO for the Comprehensive Improvement Assistance Program, Family Self-Sufficiency, Comprehensive Grant Program, Multifamily Development Programs, Section 108 Loan Guarantees and Annual Action Plans.

External Factors

A key underlying factor over which HUD has little influence is simply the nature and extent of discrimination in the society. Conceivably, Americans will become more accepting of people who are different and discrimination will diminish. It is, however, equally conceivable that discrimination will increase or become a policy issue in different aspects of American life. In either case, the result will be important and would be largely out of HUD's control.

Broad economic factors undoubtedly are also key. Vigorous, sustained economic growth should provide opportunities for minorities and women to succeed. With greater economic success among disadvantaged groups, one would expect greater integration in other aspects of society. Conversely, economic decline likely will result in greater social rigidity.

The education system and its results are important external factors. Where segregated schools result in different levels of achievement by people of different ethnicities, it is more difficult to achieve integration in other aspects of society.

How annual performance goals support the achievement of this objective

This comprehensive, targeted approach to combating housing discrimination will result in a level of effectiveness that will have a measurable impact on reducing discriminatory practices. The measures of effectiveness of concentrating FHEO program resources in a selected number of communities will allow us to determine the steps necessary to carry out the larger strategy on a National basis. The performance goals provide the blueprint for FHEO to partner with fair housing groups, housing providers, and local governments for the most effective use of resources. Our work with other areas of HUD and local communities to eliminate impediments identified through the Analysis of Impediments, combined with collaborative initiatives with other Federal agencies will allow FHEO to steadily increase its effectiveness. The successful outcomes from these targeted activities will provide the base from which FHEO expands its efforts to additional communities in the future. See Appendix I for specific performance measures.

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Content Archived: December 12, 2011