Fair Housing Revamp Planned

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a regulation meant to actively address segregation and racially-concentrated areas of poverty, after acknowledging that the Fair Housing Act has not been as effective as originally predicted.
     Just one week after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, Congress passed the federal Fair Housing Act, which sought to prevent landlords and sellers from discriminating against potential tenants and buyers.
     Courts have interpreted the Fair Housing Act as not just requiring those who receive federal housing and urban development funds to not discriminate, but also to take active steps to address segregation and racial concentrations of poverty.
     In a 1972 opinion the U.S. Supreme Court quoted the act’s co-sponsor Walter Mondale as saying “the reach of the proposed law was to replace the ghettos ‘by truly integrated and balanced living patterns.'”
     Last week, HUD issued a proposed rule that “involves refining the fair housing elements of the existing planning process that states, local governments, insular areas, and public housing agencies (program participants) now undertake.”
     “As recognized by HUD staff, program participants, civil rights advocates, the Government Accountability Office, and others, the fair housing elements of current housing and community development planning are not as effective as they could be, do not incorporate leading innovations in sound planning practice, and do not sufficiently promote the effective use of limited public resources to affirmatively further fair housing,” the department wrote.
     Among other things, the proposed rule is intended to improve the assessment, planning, and decision-making involved in fair housing by providing program participants with data to consider in a more efficient assessment.
     The department also plans to encourage regional approaches to tackling fair housing issues, including creating incentives for collaboration and planning.
     “Through these improvements, the rule seeks to make program participants more empowered to foster the diversity and strength of communities and regions by improving integrated living patterns and overcoming historic patterns of segregation, reducing racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty, and responding to identified disproportionate housing needs of persons protected by the Fair Housing Act,” the department wrote.
     Compliance costs for the enactment of the rule would cost between $3 and 9 million, the department estimated.
     Comments are due by Sept. 17.

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