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.
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.
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
in using "disparate impact analysis" private enforcement
efforts against local jurisdictions showed that "neutral"
housng policies had the impact of exclusion.
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.
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?
off efforts to hamstring inclusion tools. Stop SB349; stop
Congressional amendments, stop local efforts to block local NIMBY
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
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.
inclusive policies and programs. Find ideas here
you don't do policy work (RHINO providers or subscribers), why should
you care? Here's some situations you may encounter.
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
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.
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."
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.