HCD’s mission is to promote safe, affordable homes and vibrant, inclusive, sustainable communities for all Californians. When housing choice and access are limited because of someone’s race, sexual orientation, disability status, or other protected characteristics, there are far-reaching impacts on their lives. These impacts include access to job opportunities, access to quality education, and impacts to mental and physical health.

The goal of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) is to combat housing discrimination, eliminate racial bias, undo historic patterns of segregation, and lift barriers that restrict access in order to foster inclusive communities and achieve racial equity, fair housing choice, and opportunity for all Californians.

Discriminatory government policies, exclusionary tactics, and disparate treatment have long been key components of the housing system and have which encouraged spatial inequality based on race. For decades, systemic redlining, restrictive covenants in private land sales, and residential segregation restricted many groups, particularly communities of color, from accessing opportunity and meaningful fair housing choice.

To address this, Congress established the Fair Housing Act in 1968 to prohibit discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin. Over time the law expanded its protections to include discrimination based on sex, disability, and familial status. The law also introduced the need to go beyond just prohibiting discrimination to instead affirmatively creating real housing choice by affirmatively furthering fair housing.

However, while federal mandates prohibited overt forms of housing discrimination, residential segregation has remained through the use of more subtle, discriminatory methods that reinforce patterns of segregation that persist in California today. AB 686 introduces strong state policy to ameliorate this issue. More background and history can be found in the introductory section of the AFFH Guidance Memo (PDF).

In 2018, the California State Legislature passed AB 686 to expand upon the fair housing requirements and protections outlined in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The law:

  • requires all state and local public agencies to facilitate deliberate action to explicitly address, combat, and relieve disparities resulting from past patterns of segregation to foster more inclusive communities.
  • creates new requirements that apply to all housing elements due for revision on or after January 1, 2021.

The passage of AB 686 protects the requirement to affirmatively further fair housing within California state law, regardless of future federal actions. It also preserves the strong policy in the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HUD) Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule as published in the Federal Register in 2015.

As of January 1, 2019, AB 686 proactively applies the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing to all public agencies in California. Public agencies must now examine existing and future policies, plans, programs, rules, practices, and related activities and make proactive changes to promote more inclusive communities. More information on AB 686’s new obligations can be found in Part 1 of the AFFH Guidance Memo (PDF).

AB 686 creates new requirements for all housing elements due to be revised on or after January 1, 2021. These requirements ensure that the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing is a part of a jurisdiction’s planning process and guiding documents for community development. Amongst other clarifications, AB 1304 further clarified that the Housing Element analysis of AFFH required by AB 686 must include an analysis of Racially Concentrated Areas of Affluence, and that the Assessment of Fair Housing component of the Housing Element should analyze patterns and trends at both a local and regional scale.

New requirements and changes to Housing Element Law can be found in Part 2 of the AFFH Guidance Memo (PDF).

HCD created an interactive statewide AFFH Data Viewer to assist in the assessment of fair housing. HCD solicited feedback from advocates, councils of government, partner public agencies, and academic research groups to ensure the first iteration of the tool consolidates relevant data and provides options for addressing each component within the Assessment of Fair Housing (within the Housing Element). It consists of mapped data layers in six categories:

  1. Fair Housing Enforcement and Outreach Capacity
  2. Segregation and Integration
  3. Disparities in Access to Opportunity
  4. Disproportionate Housing Needs/Displacement Risk
  5. Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty and Affluence
  6. Supplemental Data

The interactive maps can be explored in any internet browser and exported as a PDF, jpeg, and other image files. In addition, the underlying data layers can be downloaded for offline data analysis. HCD plans to continuously update these map layers and add additional data, as well as incorporate user feedback. Comments can be submitted to AFFHGuidance@hcd.ca.gov.

Picture of the interactive maps.

Recent Additions to the AFFH Data Viewer:

  • Subsidized Housing – CHPC, 2021 (Fair Housing Enforcement and Outreach Tab) Added December 2021
  • Point in Time Count – Emergency Shelter Housing Location – HUD, 2020 (Disproportionate Housing Needs Tab) Added December 2021
  • Racially Concentrated Areas of Affluence (RCAA) – HCD, 2021 (Racially and Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty and Affluence Tab) Added July 2022
  • Estimated Displacement Risk Model – UDP, 2022 (Disproportionate Housing Needs / Displacement Risks Tab) Added September 2022

HCD’s RCAA layer is now available for public use on the AFFH Data Viewer. As stated in HCD’s AFFH Guidance Memo, when analyzing patterns and trends of segregation and proposing policy approaches, localities should not only focus on communities of color. Segregation is a continuum, with polarity between race, poverty, and affluence, which can be a direct product of the same policies and practices. To better evaluate these conditions, both sides of the continuum should be considered and compare patterns within the community and across the region. This more holistic approach will better unveil deeply rooted policies and practices and improve identification and prioritization of contributing factors to inform more meaningful actions. The RCAA metric will aid local jurisdictions in their analysis of racially concentrated areas of poverty and affluence pursuant to AB 686 and AB 1304. HCD’s RCAA metric is provided as a resource to be paired with local data and knowledge – jurisdictions are encouraged but not required to use the RCAA layer provided by HCD in their housing element analyses. HCD will continue to revisit and refine the layer over the coming year. If you identify areas where the RCAA methodology does not reflect local dynamics in your community, please reach out to us at affhguidance@hcd.ca.gov.

HCD has now added a map recently released by the Urban Displacement Project (UDP) to the AFFH Data Viewer that identifies varying levels of displacement risk for low-income renter households. Displacement risk means that in 2019—the most recent year with reliable census data—a census tract had characteristics which, according to the model, are strongly correlated with more low-income renter population loss than gain. In other words, the model estimates that more low-income households are leaving these neighborhoods than moving in. This map will aid local jurisdictions in their analysis of disproportionate housing needs, including displacement risk, pursuant to the duty to AFFH. This map is provided as a resource and should be paired with other variables (such as overcrowding, cost burden, and income diversity) to fully capture displacement risk. Any analysis of displacement risk should also consider local data and knowledge (including public comment) of on-the-ground displacement trends, given that some areas could be impacted by recent changes not captured in the model, such as changes to market conditions, the COVID-19 pandemic, or pending planning decisions.

To help jurisdictions meet their AB 686 obligations, HCD released the first sections of the AFFH Guidance Memo (PDF) that include:

  1. The duty of all public agencies to affirmatively further fair housing.
  2. New housing element requirements.
  3. Additional resources for communities.

As jurisdictions, advocates, researchers, and other partners continue to work on AFFH in their communities, HCD looks forward to soliciting additional feedback and refining this guidance. The guidance memo should be considered a living document.

Workshop and Events

The TCAC/HCD Opportunity Map identifies regions throughout California whose characteristics have been shown by research to support positive economic, educational, and health outcomes for low-income families – particularly long-term outcomes for families with children.

This map was created to inform statewide policy for funding affordable housing as part of the 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC) adopted the map into its regulations in December 2017 to accompany new policies aimed at increasing access to high opportunity areas for families with children in housing financed with 9% LIHTCs. For this reason, the map and its methodology were designed with the funding infrastructure for the 9% LIHTC program in mind. The map can also be used to inform similar policies in other state funding programs, although some methodological adjustments may be called for in applying the map to different contexts.

TCAC and HCD release an updated version of the map at the end of each year, which incorporates newly available data and research and responds to stakeholder feedback shared through engagement and comment letters. If you have questions about the map, please email affhguidance@hcd.ca.gov.

More information about the Opportunity Map can be accessed here (PDF).

Letters to Stakeholders

Each year, HCD and TCAC publish a letter to stakeholders responding to the feedback received during the most recent comment period. These letters provide additional context on the research basis that underpins the map’s methodological design, as well as documentation of methodological refinements that have been made over the years.

The most recent letters to stakeholders are below: