The Obama administration unveiled new rules Wednesday to rid the country of racially segregated neighborhoods by directing cities and towns to set goals for reducing segregation, and then regularly report their progress to the feds.
Communities nationwide will be given a series of questions designed to help them figure out whether racial bias is causing segregated neighborhoods, racial or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, unequal access to opportunity or disproportionate housing needs in their jurisdiction. They will be required to set goals related to that data and publicly report on their progress every three to five years.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development rule is intended to prod communities to meet fair housing standards established in the Fair Housing Act of 1986, by making previously unavailable or unreliable data accessible to the public, which could then use the data as an impetus for change.
The Fair Housing Act requires the government to not only eliminate racial discrimination in housing, but also to encourage racially integrated neighborhoods.
“This is the most serious effort that HUD has ever undertaken to do that,” HUD Secretary Julian Castro told The Washington Post. “I believe that it’s historic.”
HUD will compile the data into a central database where anyone can look at the mapped data and determine what kinds of changes need to happen in their community. HUD will support communities working to integrate and federal dollars will be on the line.
The rule follows a Supreme Court decision, based on the Fair Housing Act, that any housing policy that disproportionately impacts minorities can be targeted in a lawsuit, regardless of the intent of the policy. It could indirectly force some states to move Section 8 housing to high-income suburbs.
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