Obama Administration Adds New Clout to Fair Housing
"The Obama administration announced an aggressive effort on Wednesday to reduce the racial segregation of residential neighborhoods," report Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Binyamin Appelbaum. "It unveiled a new requirement that cities and localities account for how they will use federal housing funds to reduce racial disparities, or face penalties if they fail."
According to Davis and Applebaum, the Obama Administration created the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule "to enforce the goals of the civil rights-era fair housing law that bans overt residential discrimination," but have largely failed to prevent segregation. Included in the new effort is a promise by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to "make available a trove of data that local officials can use in deciding how they will address segregation and racially concentrated areas of poverty, rather than being told how they must meet the new goals." The article also notes the political divide provoked in response to the announcement—with civil rights organizations on one side and conservatives on the other.
Writing for the Urban Institute in a separate article, Solomon Greene and Erika C. Poethig provide their take on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, explaining its importance and commending HUD for taking steps toward addressing segregation and expanding opportunity.
The new rule follows shortly after a Supreme Court ruling that also strengthened the cause of the Fair Housing Act on the issue of disparate impact in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project.