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Podcast: How HUD Failed to Enforce the Fair Housing Act

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(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On Monday, ProPublica published a major look at how the Department of Housing & Urban Development has failed to enforce the Fair Housing Act's requirements for cities to create integrated neighborhoods. The in-depth piece shows how the agency has never been able to define the law's mandate to "affirmatively further" fair housing so that communities would know what they have to do to be in compliance with the law.

Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones joins the podcast and walks us through the history of the Fair Housing Act, George Romney's efforts to enforce the law, and how President Nixon stopped him at every turn. She also discusses HUD's conflicting mandate and why the agency has chosen not to withhold block grants from cites in order to get them to abide by the law. Ultimately, no president has had the will to force cities to integrate.

"Obama's record is very mixed," said Hannah-Jones in responding to a question about what the current president is doing to enforce the law. "There were lots of high hopes when he first came into office. He really strengthened the Civil Rights department at the Justice Department. And when he got involved with a landmark fair housing settlement out of Westchester (County, New York), people believed there was going to be a big change in fair housing for the first time in decades. But, in the end, you haven't seen the strong enforcement of the Westchester court order. And the Obama administration also promised that they would release regulations on affirmatively furthering fair housing. Two years past the time they said they were going to do it, they haven't. And, of course, if he's not re-elected it's unlikely that it's going to happen at all."

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