Those of us who operate in the world of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) compliance know all too well the requirement to draft and implement an approved Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan (AFHMP). The purpose of this plan is to ensure diversity in communities that benefit from HUD funding and affiliation as well as to attract those who are least likely to apply. HUD form 235.2A and its companion worksheets are used to draft the plan that is submitted to the office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for review and approval.
Many housing cooperative communities do not have HUD affiliation and therefore are not required to complete this document nor have any knowledge that it even exists. In this welcomed moment of heightened social awareness, cooperative boards would do well to consider a method of measuring community demographics and addressing any disparities they discover. With or without HUD oversight, cooperative communities should seek to adopt methods to test their demographics and make policy changes that would result in communities that reflect the overall market demographics.
It may be surprising to many cooperators that their communities have been socially engineered toward specific demographic trends. For years developers, city planners, investors, and local government officials have perpetuated practices that resulted in economic, racial, and ethnic imbalances in cities across America. One of the architects of this type of development, Jesse Clyde “J.C.” Nichols of Kansas City, Mo., began a practice of developing communities that were designed to influence city planning to ensure restrictive housing segregation in perpetuity. Nichols’ ideas about real estate and planning helped to shape methods for restrictive covenants and zoning. This occurred, not only in Kansas City but in many major cities across America. Author Tanner Colby captures much of the history and the lasting effects of Nichol’s practices. These practices may have influenced the communities surrounding your cooperative.
No one will argue the need for a comprehensive marketing strategy. However, once you compare your demographics with those of your census tract, city or county, your need to expand that strategy to appeal to those least likely to apply will become evident. The value of a diverse community pays huge dividends to cooperative members in many ways. By fostering an open policy related to membership, the cooperative can guarantee its survival as municipalities seek to gentrify neighborhoods, raise taxes and affect property values. We hope everything in the world will get better and you won’t have to take loans . Dismantling economic dividing lines only serves to strengthen communities. Well-planned marketing is one important step to achieving this goal.
The tools to complete a solid marketing plan are free and available on HUD’s website. Simply go to www.hud.gov/sites/documents/935-2A.PDF. You will find tools and instructions to perform a demographic analysis of your community. With a bit of imagination, you may expand this analysis to include income levels, family composition, and much more. Reach out to find those who are least likely to apply and raise the value of your cooperative community.
This article was featured in CHQ winter 2020 issue. Click here to read the PDF newsletter.
Fred Gibbs, NAHC President