Equity and access to opportunity are critical underpinnings of the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. Grantees are creating a more inclusive conversation on regional issues, with a particular emphasis on engaging those who have traditionally been marginalized from the community planning process. This has provided new insight into the disparate burdens and benefits experienced by different groups across a region. One way to address these disparities is the Fair Housing and Equity Assessment (FHEA), which program participants are required to complete.
At the same time, HUD feels that the FHEA can be used to enhance a new agency initiative to increase the effectiveness of an existing and more comprehensive tool, the Regional Analysis of Impediments (Regional AI). The Regional AI offers considerable value in assessing fair housing issues, as many of the fair housing issues that are most intractable are best addressed at a regional level. Few have been produced, however, and HUD has not actively encouraged the process.
As currently conceived, the FHEA is quite similar to the Regional AI in scope and content, and it is our hope that HUD's Regional Planning grantees will take the extra steps needed to transform their FHEAs into Regional AIs. To assist in this process, HUD will provide direct technical assistance to make it easier for grantees to conduct their analysis. Regional grantees who do take advantage of this opportunity will have a powerful tool for addressing regional issues more effectively and proactively. For local CDBG and HOME entitlement communities, meanwhile, opting into the Regional AI will allow them to forgo submitting their own AI while helping to address their own housing equity issues in a more comprehensive and collaborative way than was previously possible.