June 30, 2020

High Opportunity Areas


High opportunity areas are places that currently have strong economic, environmental, and educational outcomes. Locating affordable housing in high opportunity areas would result in more racial integration of neighborhoods, and offer new economic opportunities to low-income people. High opportunity areas should be a top factor in considering the share of total housing need allocated to each jurisdiction. 

This also fulfills one of HCD’s core mandates, affirmatively furthering fair housing, an initiative begun by HUD in 2015. The concept of affirmatively furthering fair housing is defined as housing policy, program guidelines, and regulations that have untapped potential to both prevent further segregation and poverty  concentration as well as encourage access to opportunity.

Using fair housing metrics for total housing need will most effectively advance the mandate to affirmatively further fair housing and promote the greatest expansion of housing opportunities in resource-rich communities, many of which have an unfortunate legacy of exclusion that must be overcome. Promoting greater housing opportunities in these neighborhoods is a proven way to help advance regional priorities such as economic mobility, as well as being the metric most clearly consistent with the statutory requirement to affirmatively further fair housing. It is crucial for this metric to be used throughout the allocation process, rather than only to allocate the low-income share of housing need, to ensure that more housing of all types is built where it is needed most. In this way, allocation based on access to high opportunity areas can also advance the statutory requirement to increase housing supply & mix of housing types across all jurisdictions in an equitable manner.

Opportunity mapping is a way to measure and visualize place-based characteristics linked to critical life outcomes, such as educational attainment, earnings from employment, and economic mobility. Opportunity maps show the level of opportunity of a region, broken down by census tract, by considering levels of poverty or wealth and degree of segregation.