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  • Opening Acts: March 26, 2020

Opening Acts: March 26, 2020

Photo © by Bernard Kleina

March 26, 2020

FHJC Critical of New York City’s Assessment of Fair Housing


In January 2020, the City of New York and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released the Where We Live NYC Draft Plan for public review. The 216-page report is the culmination of a two-year Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) process to identify barriers to housing choice in New York City, and to identify goals, strategies, and actions that the city will undertake to affirmatively further fair housing over the next five years.  

On March 9, 2020, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) provided public comments to HPD on the Draft Plan. FHJC’s comments, prepared by FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg, Policy Coordinator Britny McKenzie, and Legal Director Marie Winfield, contend that the Draft Plan does not fulfill the City’s legal obligation to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) as set required by the Fair Housing Act. 

FHJC’s key findings include: 

  • The Draft Plan does not meet the City’s commitment to comprehensive fair housing planning because it fails to analyze the city’s own policies and programs. 
  • The City’s community engagement process lacked fair housing expertise to provide meaningful community input into the assessment process. 
  • The City failed to gather, present, and analyze relevant data on fair housing enforcement and housing discrimination complaints and litigation in New York City.
  • The Draft Plan ignored New York City policies and programs that perpetuate barriers to housing choice and impede progress toward creating open, accessible, and inclusive communities.
  • The City did not utilize a regional or intersectional approach to identifying barriers to housing choice.

FHJC’s comments also provide fifteen (15) examples of fair housing issues and actions that the City of New York should have addressed in their draft report.

The authors further stated: “What we do find in the Where We Live NYC Draft Plan is a data dump which sidesteps the purpose of the AFFH rule and the AFH process. In its Fair Housing Planning Guide, HUD clearly indicated that ‘jurisdictions should not waste effort restudying and reanalyzing problems for which good information already exists. Instead, they need to plan and carry out actions to address the problems.’ But that seems to be exactly what the City has done and intended to do.”

The duty to affirmatively further fair housing, to be meaningful, requires that localities and states make an honest and comprehensive assessment of the barriers to housing choice and identify policies and practices that may be perpetuating or reinforcing residential segregation. Once these barriers are identified, communities are to develop action plans, with metrics and measurable goals, that implement programs and policies to expand housing choice and reduce residential segregation. But, regrettably, the City chose not to pursue this approach.     

The full text of FHJC’s comments can be found HERE

The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen fair housing enforcement in the New York City region.