The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a final rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing today that it says will “equip communities that receive HUD funding with data and tools to help them meet long-standing fair housing obligations in their use of HUD funds.”

HUD will also provide additional guidance and technical assistance to facilitate local decision-making on fair housing priorities and goals for the Obama Administration’s affordable housing and community development.

The final rule aims to provide all HUD program participants with clear guidelines and data they can use to achieve the current White House’s goals.

“As a former mayor, I know firsthand that strong communities are vital to the well-being and prosperity of families,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “Unfortunately, too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP code should never determine a child’s future. This important step will give local leaders the tools they need to provide all Americans with access to safe, affordable housing in communities that are rich with opportunity.”

HUD says the final rule responds to the recommendations of a 2010 Government Accountability Office report as well as stakeholders and HUD program participants who asked for clearer guidance, more technical assistance, better compliance and more meaningful outcomes. 

The final rule isn’t final though, as the program faces funding challenges in the House of Representatives. 

Also, implementation requires the collection of vast amounts of personal data on neighborhoods, and the contentious issue could become a hot-button item in the 2016 presidential race as well.

Meanwhile, affordable housing advocates praised the government program.

“Where you live matters, and this rule will help ensure that everyone — regardless of their ZIP code — has a fair shot at the opportunities they need to succeed,” said Shanna Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “When Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968, it recognized that government policy had helped to create deeply segregated communities and then starved many communities of the services and amenities that were critical to their health and vitality. 

“The AFFH rule provides local governments with the tools they need to ensure that every community has access to quality schools, good jobs, public transportation, safe streets, a healthy environment, and other factors critical for thriving neighborhoods,” she said.