In its final months, the Obama administration has set up a strategy to bring inner city living to the suburbs by deploying three federal agencies to dictate to states and local communities how to set up schools, housing and mass transit.
It’s all part of a federal push to reduce economic and racial segregation in favor of diversity.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) expanded the reach of its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule to two other federal agencies: the Department of Transportation and the Department of Education.
AFFH is a rule established by HUD last year that requires any nationwide locality that receives block grant funding from the agency to rezone neighborhoods based on income and racial prerequisites. It’s based on the 40-year-old Fair Housing Act.
In a joint letter released at the beginning of the week, the secretaries of the three agencies called on local leaders to use the AFFH rule as a vehicle to push state and local officials to abide by federal recommendations in planning to to develop residential, commercial and school sites.
“We recognize that a growing body of research supports the benefits of socioeconomic and racial diversity in schools and communities, and that such diversity can help establish access points for opportunity and mobility,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Education Secretary John King and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrote. “We also recognize that children raised in concentrated poverty or in communities segregated by
socioeconomic status or race or ethnicity have significantly lower social and economic mobility than those growing up in integrated communities.
“Rising economic segregation means that an increasing number of low-income households are located in distressed neighborhoods where they face challenges such as failing schools, high rates of crime, and inadequate access to services and jobs, making it harder for individuals and families to escape poverty,” the trio wrote.
Through AFFH, the secretaries want local leaders to “identify impediments to accessing opportunity” and provide solutions to what has been identified as an issue and “provide broad-reaching benefits … to ensure that every child and family is provided with transportation, housing, and education tools that promote economic mobility.”
State and local educational agencies, for example, are urged to develop “boundary-free open enrollment or lottery schools when drawing school attendance boundaries, and selecting sites for such a programs like charter schools or magnet school.”
The three federal agencies also want their local and state education officials to “consult with transportation and housing authorities and housing development agencies” when planning a school site.
The federal authorities want local and state transportation officials to create mass transit plans and more public transportation routes, as well as include local school districts, housing authorities, Head Start programs, community colleges and similar entities in putting together the mass transit plan.
Westchester County, N.Y. Executive Rob Astorino, who is battling HUD in court over the agency’s demand for more section 8 housing in his county, said the letter is what he been warning about.
“This document proves what I’ve been saying for six years: The federal government is planning to take control of the American suburb and forever change it in the false name of equality. If HUD gets its way, small town America will literally disappear. It will be forcibly urbanized by Washington social engineers.”
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy announced Wednesday he will introduce legislation that promotes “positive” research for federal monitoring over local community demographics.