Include

"Include" means making plans for reducing inequality
more on disparate impact here

The politics of inclusion
    In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Texas v. Inclusive Communities, the Columbus Dispatch announced "Neighborhood inequality particularly profound in Columbus area."  Following the decision it's clear that Columbus and other Ohio communities will need to address inequality both within their boundaries and regionally. The Dispatch article notes: "A report this year ranked Columbus as the second most economically segregated major metro area in the country, after Austin, Texas. And a 2013 study found that Columbus is among the least-promising places in the nation for low-income children to climb the financial ladder."
    The Inclusive Communities decision may be a tipping point in efforts to use housing a tool for a more inclusive society. The battlefield over efforts to promote inclusion moves from judicial branch to the more administrative and legislative branches of public policy making. Conservatives cry "social engineering" while progressives welcome the fulfillment of the vision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, passed in the wake of the assassination of MLK.
    Now, charged up by the decision in Texas vs. Inclusive Communities. fair housing progressives are ready to challenge systemic discrimination using housing to promote inclusive communities and social conservatives are moving to cut or bar the use of funding used to promote inclusive communities.
    A little history is helpful here. When the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King advocates had a tool to fight discrimination on individual bias and to promote integration by requiring Federally funded programs to promote fair housing as a policy. But as the 60's waned, so did the zeal for promoting open communities. Emily Badger writes in the Washington Post: "We were once blunt about the origins of the American ghetto. A national panel of experts — two senators, a mayor and a governor among them — studied the country's segregated cities at the request of the president and concluded that pervasive white racism and official policy were to blame." The 1960's commitment to address "systemic discrimination" faded as Nixon's victory with the "Southern strategy" took center stage in American policy making beginning in the 1970's through the Reagan-Bush-Clinton eras. Sociologists and policy makers of the time fell in love with a "Culture of Poverty" theory which suggested that the characteristics of African American culture, not access to opportunities, is the main barrier to social advancement.
    Meanwhile reality was overtaking the discussion.
  • Sociological studies have slowly discredited the "Culture of Poverty" theories of the 1970's. Starting with the findings flowing from the Gautreaux Project through the studies supported by the McArthur Foundation under their How Housing Matters initiative social scientists have shown health, educational, and employment benefits of integrated communities. More under Benefits of Deconcentration here.
  • Fair housing rights are no longer just race based. Fair Housing Act has expanded its coverage over the past 40 years to include families with children, female headed households, persons with disabilities. LGBT households, victims of domestic violence and military families have all gotten "protected" status outside of the FHA. This expansion of coverage has made a broader constituency for inclusive policies.
  • Success in using "disparate impact analysis" private enforcement efforts against local jurisdictions showed that "neutral" housng policies had the impact of exclusion.
  • The persistence of housing journalists like Pro Publica's NikoleHannah-Jones, Wonkblog's Emily Badger, and Alexis Stephens
  • Demographic and economic evolution: As the US inches towards becoming a majority minority country before 2050, business and civic institutions can't permit their employees, customers and members to be segregated by demographic characteristics. As employment pattens move from brick and mortar and geographic localities, the work force needs to be more mobile than ever before.
    Ironically, many progressive organizations resisted this breakthru decision, fearing that the conservative Supreme Court would end efforts to address systemic discrimination. But with the arrival of the Obama administration in 2008, there was a renewed interest in taking small steps towards reviving the original vision of the Fair Housing Act under the buzz-phrase that "zip code is destiny" (more recently modified to some version of "zip code should not be destiny.") Under Obama's Department of HUD the 1960's notion of "integration" morphed into the 21st century vision of "inclusion". The distinction is important! Integration was often based on social relationships, so that much of the focus of fair housing practice in the 1960-1980's focused on a "human relations" model that was mostly abandoned after Rodney King's comment.  Inclusion is built on the principle of access to opportunity. Some examples of HUD's new policy approach include important language in the HUD goals, expansion of housing choice vouchers, selective enforcement efforts like Westchester Co. NY, new policies to deconcentrate public and subsidized housing (RAD, 8bb), Choice Neighborhoods, and new guidance on "disparate impact" and "affirmatively furthering fair housing" (AFFH).
    Now with the legal uncertainties resolved by Texas v. Inclusive Communities, rental housing advocates (RHINO tenants & advocates) and community development planners and program managers (Inclusion Partners) need to be asking where from here?
  • Fighting off efforts to hamstring inclusion tools. Stop SB349; stop Congressional amendments, stop local efforts to block local NIMBY efforts.
  • Promoting transformative policies of local units of government. Even with new rules for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) , HUD is likely to accept "something" as progress and may be slow to act on passive resistance for fear of igniting more Congressional backlash.
  • Identify and challenge local "business as usual" policies that inhibit inclusion. Things like residency requirements, MHA "landlord lists", single family and lot size zoning restrictions can inhibit affordable housing development and mobility within a region.
  • Create inclusive policies and programs. Find ideas here
  • But if you don't do policy work (RHINO providers or subscribers), why should you care? Here's some situations you may encounter.
  • When an all white HUD property gets a new African American tenant and the gossip machine cranks up, you can help frame the discussion around inclusion with some basic facts, like: the community is 10% African American and you have 40 units at the property so logically 4 should house African Americans...not as a quota...just as a fact of fairness.
  • Or when tenants in a "senior" building have younger disabled people and/or grandmas with children, you can help to explain the "senior only" rule and moderate the discussion around inclusion.
  • Or, when friends, family and others in your social networks tell you that government should stop telling people where to live, you explain that affirmatively furthering fair housing makes"choice" of where to live a reality. Many individual households will decide to stay in communities where they have historic or familial roots. That's choice too.
    The New York Times wrote in an editorial in support of the "new" initiative towards inclusion. "Critics are already describing the new rules as an example of overreach by the Obama administration. Far from it. The responsibilities laid out in the new rules were part of the Fair Housing Act all along but were ignored over decades by governments at all levels. The tragedy is that this has left the country more divided than it otherwise would have been." 
 
What's news?
September 8, 2016 Science Daily White racism tied to negative health and social outcomes for blacks and whites
      Science Daily reports on a new study which shows the health impacts of white recism. "Living in unabashedly racist communities can shorten the lives of both blacks and whites, according to new research. Researchers compared the racial biases of nearly 1.4 million people nationwide to death rates in more than 1,700 U.S. counties. Their findings suggest that blacks and, to a lesser degree, whites who reside in overtly racist communities are more prone to dying from heart disease and other circulatory diseases."
Want more proof?:Black defendants suffer when a judge’s favorite football team loses 

December 10, 2015 Marketplace Mobility as an economic measure
Many Americans believe that ours is a very economically mobile society, a country where we can still pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But that's not true. 'Contrary to that common belief, by most measures of mobility, the United States has some of the lowest measures of upward-mobility of any developed country in the world,' said Nathaniel Hendren, a professor of economics at Harvard University. Hendren said the odds that an American kid who is born into the bottom 20 percent of the income scale will make it to the top 20 percent are very low, around seven percent. What's more, he said, the odds of going from rags-to-riches in the U.S. have always been fairly low. A shrinking middle class could make mobility even more rare.