Journalism in the Public Interest

Politics & Government, Civil Rights

What Should Communities Be Doing To Further Fair Housing?

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned housing discrimination and mandated that the government “affirmatively further” fair housing. But the law didn’t make it clear exactly what that meant.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, charged with enforcing the law, has since granted billions of dollars in block grants to communities on the condition that they track obstacles to fair housing and their efforts to overcome them, and prove that they do not discriminate. But HUD has only withheld funding for violations only twice since 1974. Meanwhile, segregation levels have barely budged.

So what should communities be doing to “affirmatively further” fair housing? We asked fair housing experts and readers to weigh in on Quora.

Find excerpts of that discussion below, or visit our discussion page on Quora to tell us what you think.

Setting community goals

Read More from Alan Jenkins, The Opportunity Agenda on Quora


Alter the geography of opportunity

Read More from of Elizabeth, Inclusive Communities Project on Quora


‘Affordable housing and fair housing are not one in the same’

Read More from Deidre Swesnik, National Fair Housing Alliance on Quora

Read More from Rob Breymaier, Oak Park Regional Housing Center on Quora


Models for change

Read More from Mira Tanna, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida on Quora


The Real Estate Industry’s Role

Read More of Bruce Feldman's answer on Quora

Read More from Rob Breymaier, Oak Park Regional Housing Center on Quora


The Government’s Role

Read More from Elizabeth Julian, Inclusive Communities Project on Quora


Read More from Joe Rich,  Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on Quora


There is a widely shared consensus that our nation is now characterized by “de-facto” segregation. That term is inaccurate and misleading. Our residential segregation was not created by subtle demographic or economic policies, or by personal choices; it was created by state action. Hannah-Jones has shown how the federal government has refused to reverse these policies, even when specifically ordered by legislative language to do so.

Although the Obama administration has taken some small steps to attack residential segregation, it is inconceivable that much can be done as long as the consensus, shared across the political spectrum, persists that our segregated housing patterns are accidentally “de facto,” caused, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, only by “unknown and perhaps unknowable factors such as in-migration, birth rates, economic changes, or cumulative acts of private racial fears.”

Richard Rothstein, Economic Policy Institute

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