[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 136 (Monday, July 17, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 40522-40524]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-6254]


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ADVISORY COUNCIL ON HISTORIC PRESERVATION


Draft Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Policy Statement 
on Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation

AGENCY: Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Issue Policy Statement on Affordable 
Housing and Historic Preservation.

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SUMMARY: The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is 
revisiting its ``Policy Statement on Affordable Housing and Historic 
Preservation,'' adopted in 1995 (1995 Policy). A Task Force composed of 
ACHP members has drafted a revised policy, and invites your views and 
comments. The Task Force will use your comments to finalize the draft 
policy before presenting it to the full ACHP membership for 
consideration and possible adoption.

DATES: Submit comments on or before August 16, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments concerning this proposed program 
comment to Don Klima, Director, Office of Federal Agency Programs, 
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, 
NW., Suite 809, Washington, DC 20004. Fax 202-606-8672. You may submit 
electronic comments to affordablehousing@achp.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Klima, (202) 606-8505.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Advisory Council on Historic 
Preservation (ACHP) is an independent Federal agency, created by the 
National Historic Preservation Act, that promotes the preservation, 
enhancement, and productive use of our Nation's historic resources, and 
advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation 
policy.
    Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 
106), 16 U.S.C. 470f, requires Federal agencies to consider the effects 
of their undertakings on historic properties and provide the ACHP a 
reasonable opportunity to comment with regard to such undertakings. 
ACHP has issued the regulations that set forth the process through 
which Federal agencies comply with these duties. Those regulations are 
codified under 36 CFR part 800.

I. Background on the Draft Policy Statement

    In 1995, the ACHP adopted the ``Policy Statement on Affordable

[[Page 40523]]

Housing and Historic Preservation'' (1995 Policy) to serve as a guide 
for Federal agencies and State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) 
when making decisions about affordable housing projects during review 
of Federal undertakings under Section 106 and its implementing 
regulations. The ACHP adopted the policy to guide Federal agencies and 
SHPOs at a time when conflicts between the dual goals of providing 
affordable housing and preserving historic properties was making the 
achievement of either more difficult. A decade later, the provision of 
affordable housing was developed into an even more pressing national 
concern, prompting a reconsideration of the principles in the 1995 
Policy.
    In 2005, the ACHP Chairman convened an Affordable Housing Task 
Force to revisit the 1995 Policy in light of changes to the Section 106 
regulations since 1999 and other ACHP initiatives. Members of the Task 
Force include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of 
the Interior, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation 
Officers (NCSHPO), the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and 
citizen members, Emily Summers, and Jack Williams, Chair. The U.S. 
Department of Housing and Urban Development participates in the Task 
Force as an ACHP observer.
    The Task Force began meeting in April 2005 to consider to what 
extent the 1995 Policy had been implemented and whether the 1995 Policy 
had improved the effectiveness and efficiency of historic preservation 
reviews for affordable housing projects. The Task Force conducted an 
online survey of stakeholders in August-September 2005 to solicit the 
views of housing providers, local governments, and the historic 
preservation community regarding the significance of the 1995 Policy 
and its practical application in the field. The goal of the survey was 
to assess whether the 1995 Policy had made an appreciable difference in 
the planning, outcomes, and implementation schedule for completing 
affordable housing projects that affected historic properties.
    The ACHP posted the survey online, and individual task force 
members with connections to various constituencies sent e-mail notices 
and invitations to a broad distribution of Section 106 participants and 
housing providers. During the 30 days that the survey was posted on the 
ACHP Web site, nearly 350 individuals responded to the invitation to 
comment.
    After conducting additional research efforts, the Task Force 
concluded in November 2005 that revision of the 1995 Policy is 
necessary to achieve the goals of promoting historic preservation 
through the creation of affordable housing. Further, it was agreed that 
there were still opportunities to make the Section 106 review process 
more effective and efficient for these types of undertakings.
    The Task Force has drafted a revised Policy Statement on Affordable 
Housing and Historic Preservation (text at the end of this notice). The 
ACHP invites the comments of the public on the draft policy statement, 
particularly as it relates to the following questions:

--How can the approaches outlined in the draft policy statement be used 
to address your concerns about combining and balancing the goals of 
historic preservation and the provision of affordable housing?
--How will the principles outlined in the draft policy statement foster 
and provide a framework for consultation in affordable housing 
undertakings?
--How will the draft policy statement assist Federal agencies, local 
governments, developers, and other housing providers in planning and 
designing affordable housing projects to preserve and reuse historic 
properties and to revitalize distressed neighborhoods?
--What form of guidance would be most useful to you in the 
implementation of the principles outlined in this draft policy 
statement?
--What major obstacles to providing affordable housing with or near 
historic properties are not addressed in the draft policy statement?

    If you have specific experiences in using the 1995 Policy in the 
planning and implementation of affordable housing projects that you 
believe will inform the revision of the Policy Statement, we encourage 
you to share this information in your comments.

II. Text of the Draft Policy

    The following is the text of the draft policy:

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) Policy Statement on 
Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation

    Historic buildings provide affordable housing to many American 
families. Affordable housing rehabilitation can contribute to the 
ongoing vitality of historic neighborhoods as well as of the businesses 
and institutions that serve them. Rehabilitation can be an important 
historic preservation strategy. Federal agencies that help America meet 
its need for safe, decent, and affordable housing, most notably the 
U.S. Department of Housing Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture's (USDA's) Rural Development agency, often work with or 
near historic properties.
    The ACHP considers affordable housing for the purposes of this 
policy to be Federally-subsidized, single- and multi-family housing for 
individuals and families that make less than 80% of the area median 
income. It includes, but is not limited to, Federal assistance for new 
construction, rehabilitation, mortgage insurance, and loan guarantees.
    National policy encompasses both preserving historic resources and 
providing affordable housing. The National Historic Preservation Act 
(NHPA) of 1966, as amended, directs the Federal government to foster 
conditions under which modern society and prehistoric and historic 
resources can exist in productive harmony and ``fulfill the social, 
economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.'' 
Similarly, affordable housing legislation like the Cranston-Gonzalez 
Act of 1990, which aims to ``expand the supply of decent, safe, 
sanitary, and affordable housing,'' anticipates historic preservation 
as a tool for meeting its goals. Actively seeking ways to reconcile 
historic preservation goals with the special economic and social needs 
associated with affordable housing is critical in addressing one of the 
nation's most pressing challenges.
    Providing affordable housing is a growing national need that 
continues to challenge housing providers and preservationists.
    In issuing this policy statement, the ACHP, consistent with Section 
202 of the NHPA, offers a flexible approach for affordable housing 
projects involving historic properties. Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act (Section 106) requires Federal agencies to 
take into account the effect of their actions on historic properties 
and afford the ACHP a reasonable opportunity to comment. This policy 
provides a framework for meeting these requirements for affordable 
housing.
    Federal tax incentives provide opportunities for historic 
preservation and affordable housing to work together, including the 
Low-Income Building Tax Credit and the Historic Rehabilitation Tax 
Credit. Projects taking advantage of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax 
Credit must be reviewed by the National Park Service (NPS) for 
adherence to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for 
Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings

[[Page 40524]]

(Secretary's Standards) in a separate and distinct process. Review of 
thee projects is more comprehensive than Section 106 review and 
necessitates early coordination with NPS and the State Historic 
Preservation Officer (SHPO) since work must adhere to the Secretary's 
Standards to obtain the tax credit. Nonetheless, coordination with 
Section 106 consultation and these reviews frequently occurs.
    In an effort to better focus Section 106 reviews for affordable 
housing, the ACHP encourages Federal and State agencies, SHPOs, Tribal 
Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), local governments, housing 
providers, and other consulting parties to use the following principles 
in Section 106 consultation.

Implementation Principles

    I. Rehabilitating historic properties to provide affordable 
housing is a sound historic preservation strategy.
    II. Federal agencies and State and local government entities 
assuming HUD's environmental review requirements are responsible for 
ensuring compliance with Section 106.
    III. Review of effects in historic districts should focus on 
exterior features.
    IV. Consultation should consider the overall preservation goals 
of the community.
    V. Plans and specifications should adhere to the Secretary's 
Standards when possible and practical.
    VI. Section 106 consultation should emphasize consensus 
building.
    VII. The ACHP encourages streamlining the Section 106 process to 
respond to local conditions.
VIII. The need for archeological investigations should be avoided.

    I. Rehabilitating historic properties to provide affordable housing 
is a sound historic preservation strategy. Continued investment in 
historic buildings through rehabilitation and repair for affordable 
housing purposes and stabilization of historic districts through the 
construction of infill housing should be recognized as contributing to 
the broad historic preservation goals of neighborhood revitalization 
and retention.
    II. Federal agencies and State and local government entities 
assuming HUD's environmental review requirements are responsible for 
ensuring compliance with Section 106. Federal agencies, notably USDA 
Rural Development and HUD, provide important funding for affordable 
housing. These Federal agencies, and funding recipients assuming HUD's 
environmental review requirements, must comply with Section 106. SHPOs, 
THPOs, and local historic preservation commissions provide expert 
opinions and advice during consultation. Consultation should be 
concluded and outcomes recorded prior to the expenditure of funds.
    III. Review of effects in historic districts should focus on 
exterior features. Section 106 review of effects focuses on the 
characteristics that qualify a property for listing in the National 
Register of Historic Places, The significance of historic districts is 
typically associated with exterior features. Accordingly, unless a 
building is listed or considered eligible for listing in the National 
Register as an individual property or specific interior elements 
contribute to maintaining a district's character, review under Section 
106 should focus on proposed changes to the exterior. In all cases, 
identifying the features that qualify a property for inclusion in the 
National Register defines the scope of Section 106 review.
    IV. Consultation should consider the overall preservation goals of 
the community. When assessing, and negotiating the resolution of, the 
effects of affordable housing projects on historic properties, 
consultation should focus not simply on individual buildings but on the 
historic preservation goals of the broader neighborhood or community. 
If the affected historic property is a historic district, the agency 
official should assess effects on the historic district as a whole. 
Proposals to demolish historic properties for new replacement housing 
should be based on background documentation that addresses the broader 
context of the historic district and evaluates the economic and 
structural feasibility of rehabilitation that advances affordable 
housing.
    V. Plans and specifications should adhere to the Secretary's 
Standards when possible and practical. The Secretary's Standards 
outline a consistent national approach to the treatment of historic 
properties that can be applied flexibly in a way that relates to local 
character and needs. Plans and specifications for rehabilitation, new 
construction, and abatement of hazardous conditions in affordable 
housing projects associated with historic properties should adhere to 
the recommended approaches in the Secretary's Standards when possible 
and practical. The ACHP recognizes that there are instances when the 
Secretary's Standards cannot be followed and that Section 106 allows 
for the negotiation of other outcomes.
    VI. Section 106 consultation should emphasize consensus building. 
Section 106 review strives to build consensus with affected communities 
in all phases of the process. Consultation with affected communities 
should be on a scale appropriate to that of the undertaking. Various 
stakeholders, including community members and neighborhood residents, 
should be included in the Section 106 review process as consulting 
parties so that the full range of issues can be addressed in developing 
a balance between historic preservation and affordable housing goals.
    VII. The ACHP encourages streamlining the Section 106 process to 
respond to local conditions. The ACHP encourages participants to seek 
innovative and practical ways to streamline the Section 106 process 
that respond to unique local conditions related to the delivery of 
affordable housing. Programmatic Agreements often delegate the Section 
106 review role of the SHPO to local governments, particularly where 
local preservation ordinances exist and/or where qualified preservation 
professionals are employed to improve the efficiency of historic 
preservation reviews. Such agreements may also target the Section 106 
review process to local circumstances that warrant the creation of 
exempt categories for routine activities, the adoption of ``treatment 
and design protocol'' for rehabilitation and new infill construction, 
and the development of design guidelines tailored to a specific 
historic district and/or neighborhood.
    VIII. The need for archeological investigations should be avoided. 
Archeological investigations should not be required for affordable 
housing projects limited to rehabilitation and requiring minimal ground 
disturbance.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 470j.

    Dated: July 12, 2006.
Don Klima,
Acting Executive Director.
[FR Doc. 06-6254 Filed 7-14-06; 8:45 am]
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