Recognizing the costs, burdens, and general stagnation associated with housing segregation can help lawmakers combat these practices by way of legislation. Communities not implementing fair housing practices may not only find their housing stock in an unbalanced crisis, but in a legal crisis as well.
HUD Applying Pressure
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently monitoring Westchester County, New York, on their efforts to affirmatively further fair housing. The county stands to lose federal dollars to the tune of $7.4 million if steps are not taken to support fair housing. HUD has already frozen these grants and the money will be returned to the Treasury Department if HUD does not distribute the funds soon – HUD will reallocate the dollars to municipalities whose integration policies are on point, if Westchester fails to comply with their recommendations. HUD gave Westchester instructions to build more affordable housing in communities that are predominantly white, remove instances of exclusionary zoning, and create source-of-income legislation, similar to that of Chicago’s. Further, Westchester needs to draft a thorough analysis of impediments to fair housing choice report. Previous attempts at this plan have been rejected by HUD. Some Westchester officials deny that exclusionary zoning exists in the county, however HUD disagrees. Strategies must be implemented to integrate people of color into the most demographically homogenous segments of the County.
Another focus of the current housing desegregation movement is the goal of incorporating mixed-income residences, particularly in communities where housing price point variety is lacking. Often, individuals work full-time jobs, but still cannot afford to secure quality housing close to their place of employment without their monthly housing expense exceeding 30% of their income. Municipalities can help balance their housing supply by ensuring their community has a fair amount of housing available across low, mid, and high-income ranges. Neighborhoods that embrace workforce housing are often more attractive to companies looking to invest. Access to a quality workforce produces a healthy mix; workers are employed, they contribute to local commerce, and businesses enjoy increased profits. This system’s success is contingent on a healthy workforce/housing match. Additionally, residents and municipalities reap benefits of reducing commute times for workers as there is less road, fuel, and transit usage.
City of Chicago ordinance
Chicago leads by example when it comes to creating legislation to support housing integration, and does not allow for discrimination against families that receive vouchers for subsidized housing. Advocates are working on the campaign to amend the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance to include Source of Income (SOI) Protection. This reform protects families with Housing Choice Vouchers against housing discrimination. Meaning that if a family has a Housing Choice Voucher as their source of income, a property manager or landlord must use the same application and screening requirements used for non-voucher holders. The presence of a Housing Choice Voucher cannot be reason alone to not rent an apartment to a family. This ordinance is important because it supports the concept of upward mobility, allowing voucher holders to self-integrate into neighborhoods of their choice. Opportunity neighborhoods are identified as communities with higher quality schools, employment, nutrition, and transit opportunities, as well as lower crime rates. This improvement in environment can be seen not only in the individual that makes a move to a community, but in future generations through better schools and socially enriching opportunities.
Removing discrimination by way of SOI is beneficial to all parties; municipalities benefit by having a diverse community, resulting in a balanced and fair environment in which to thrive. Residents enjoy access to institutions and resources that contribute to their quality of life, enabling them to be their best selves and contribute to society at the highest of each individual’s abilities. Municipal budgets and resources can be reallocated as the need for public assistance decreases and individuals are able to transition to self-sustaining lifestyles. In the residential leasing industry, vacancy and turnover are two issues property investors look to minimize in order to boost profits. Accepting housing vouchers supports this financial goal, as the bulk of the rental payment is coming from a regular, guaranteed source via monthly subsidy payment, and tax and financing incentives are available for buildings with integrated housing. In addition to the screening applied by the housing authority, a property owner is free to uphold the same income, background, and credit requirements used for non-voucher holders.
By ignoring segregation and not affirmatively furthering fair housing, municipalities are embracing de facto segregation, at the expense of their current residents and community vitality. This practice furthers pockets of low-income neighborhoods; clusters that create unhealthy issues for people living in and near these neighborhoods. As it is sometimes easy to forget, no human or neighborhood exists in an independent bubble – we are all connected, streets and taxes and environment links everyone, so what harms one, in fact harms all.
By Christina Scordia, Fair Housing Policy Research Assistant
Photo By June Marie
The United States is comprised of an ever growing and diverse society of people. This pattern is increasingly exhibited all throughout the world. If you’re curious about how rapid the population is growing, check out the US Census Population Clock that tracks the rate of population grow for the United States and the world. This real time instrument proves our need to implement proactive fair housing practices in response to the future migration patterns of residents and potential demographic shifts within your community.
The U.S. population clock is based on a series of short-term projections for the resident population of the United States. This includes people whose usual residence is in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. These projections do not include members of the Armed Forces overseas, their dependents, or other U.S. citizens residing outside the United States. The projections are based on a monthly series of population estimates starting with the April 1, 2010 resident population from the 2010 Census.
In addition to the Census Population Clock, you can retrieve in-depth annual population estimates about regional population growth and the breakdown of our population by gender & age. This data is aggregated at the end of each year from a new series of population estimates is used to revise the post-censal estimates.
By Morgan P. Davis, Fair Housing Policy Director
Photo by Niall Kennedy
April marks the forty-fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Fair Housing Act. For National Fair Housing Month numerous groups throughout the region and nationwide are celebrating the passing of this law through fair housing lectures, workshops, and other events.
The Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA) is a consortium of fair housing and advocacy organizations and government agencies committed to the value of fair housing, diversity, and integration. This group grants you access to fair housing leaders within Illinois and provides sound insight on how to implement fair housing practices within your jurisdiction. If you work within the fair housing field, we highly recommend that you connect with CAFHA and become a member.
To increase the awareness of affirmatively furthering fair housing, CAFHA is hosting many National Fair Housing Month events to get the community involved. The first event is April 3rd at the James R. Thompson Center. The meeting will feature a recap of the momentous Campaign to Amend the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance to include Source of Income. Panelists include guests from:
This event is open to all, RSVP to save your seat.
CAFHA is also hosting is a member’s only event at the end of the month, located at Charter One in Downtown Chicago. If you are already a member of CAFHA or are interested in becoming one to attend this meeting, email CAFHA for more information.
If you happen to be in the Springfield area, the Illinois Department of Human rights (IDHR) is planning a two-day conference at the capitol. It’s a great opportunity to connect with groups advocating for fair housing all throughout the state of Illinois. To receive updates about this event, email IDHR.
Make sure that you know your rights when it comes to renting or buying. Advocate for fair housing so that your neighbors, friends, and families are aware of this law and have equal access to opportunity and quality housing. Utilize the events offered through the month of April. Join the fight for fair housing!
By Kathryn Miner, Fair Housing Policy Intern
He was born January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the middle child of a Baptist preacher and named after his father and in honor of a German Protestant religious leader. He marched for civil rights, challenged the disparate housing standards of Black people, and had a dream of racial equality.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave aspirations to the hopeless and in reverence of his day we are reminded of why we fight for fair housing. We are reminded of why we seek justice for our neighbor and continue to be discontent with the state of segregation in our nation.
Fair housing advocates are often told that racial discrimination is no longer an issue or that other problems take precedence. How can we focus on other issues if the access to shelter, to education, to community, and to opportunity is not equal? An advantageous quality of life is still obstructed from some individuals that are different only in the color of their skin.
If you are not a participant of the fair housing movement, I challenge you to reflect on why you choose to ignore the harsh realities of our institutions. Question why you take for granted the benefits of an integrated society and remember that as members of mankind, it is every person’s right to be treated equally and with respect.
Regardless of your role in your community, you have the power to affirmatively further fair housing. Whether it’s creating a diversity statement for your jurisdiction, renting to a person regardless of their ethnicity, or speaking against racist dialogue within your network of people, you are bringing us one step closer to an integrated society.
Diversity is not a burden. It is a means to broaden your worldview, strengthen your foundation, inspire creativity, stimulate vibrant neighborhoods, and invest in the future.
“Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem, but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Morgan P. Davis, Fair Housing Policy Director
Recent U.S. immigration policies spark provocative debates through their attempt to secure national borders and modify the process for legal residency. Federal spending heightens the awareness of this issue as a report from the Migration Policy Institute reveals that the nearly $18 billion of spending on immigration enforcement in the 2012 fiscal year significantly outweighed the cumulative spending of $14.4 billion for all other major criminal federal law enforcement.
These immigration policy reforms leave jurisdictions and housing providers wondering how the augmented regulations impact their fair housing practices. Do undocumented residents have the same fair housing protections as citizens and legal immigrants?
There is certainly a gap in consistency and enforcement since a handful of jurisdictions are lobbying to prohibit renting to illegal immigrants while most others do not so much as address the protection of undocumented immigrants in rental housing.
Jurisdictions enacting ordinances to drive away undocumented immigrants violate the longstanding constitutional principle that the federal government is solely responsible for regulating immigration. The Fair Housing Act, as amended, prohibits housing discrimination of the seven protected classes and applies to all residents seeking housing in the U.S. Further, nearly every federal fair housing law prohibits discrimination based upon national origin. Regardless of any anti-immigration policies a community is attempting to enact, it is the responsibility of every housing provider to recognize the rights of the seven protected classes.
In December of 2008, the National Commission of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity delivered a report at the National Press Club in Washington, DC stating:
“Anti-immigrant ordinances are a particularly egregious example of the use of land use regulation to erect barriers to fair housing. In an effort to exclude immigrants entirely and others entirely, some municipalities have enacted zoning ordinances that prohibit members of extended families from living together. Even more extreme, between 2005 and 2007, more than 30 municipalities throughout the Country (in, California, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) enacted legislation penalizing and even jailing individuals for renting apartments to illegal immigrants. Without the authority or expertise to determine a potential tenant’s immigration status, a landlord may refrain from renting or leasing to anyone he suspects could be an undocumented immigrant, a behavior likely to lead to racial and ethnic profiling and discrimination against people of color, and most commonly, Latinos.”
Asking for immigration or citizenship documentation only from people who speak with an accent or seem to be “foreign” is a civil rights violation. Subjecting this population to a special process to receive housing prevents individuals that are guilty of no crime from housing opportunities. Landlords should not be placed in the position to ask anyone for their immigration status. Landlords need to uphold the same responsibilities to undocumented immigrants as they do for citizens and legal residents, ensuring that the property is habitable and not threatening or intimidating this population when complaints are filed due to discriminatory treatment.
Some frustrations with the federal government’s response to the immigration issue are legitimate, and are often shared by undocumented residents. However, blatant housing discrimination is wrong and in most instances driven by false assumptions on the impact of immigrants on neighborhoods and society. As jurisdictions and members of the housing community, one must articulate that all immigrants provide valuable cultural, social, and economic contributions to communities. Federal housing policies protect all people and it is no ones place to refuse another resident of their civil liberties and opportunity.
For more information about undocumented immigration policy:
By Morgan P. Davis, Fair Housing Policy Director
Photo by Glycerine517