Journalism in the Public Interest

Congressman Introduces Bill to Prod Administration on Fair Housing Enforcement

As the nation prepares to celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday Monday, Congressman Al Green, a Texas Democrat, has introduced a bill, for the fourth time, to fund a national program to test for housing discrimination.

Green introduced the Veterans, Women, Families with Children, Race and Persons with Disabilities Housing Fairness Act yesterday, on King's birthday. King strongly advocated for an end to housing segregation and it took his assassination to nudge a reluctant Congress to finally pass the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act.

A recent ProPublica investigation found that the federal government has largely failed to enforce the pivotal law and America remains highly segregated. As we detailed, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development does not test to see if landlords and banks may be violating the law. As a result, most discrimination goes unpunished.

Green's bill would, among other things, create a testing and enforcement program to be administered by HUD. The proposed cost: $15 million. HUD in the past has come out in support of the bill, though as we have previously noted HUD could start a testing program on its own.

Green's previous bills on the issue have all died in committee, without reaching a full vote in the House.

"I don't believe this is something we can ignore. I plan to keep introducing the bill as long as I am in Congress until we pass it," Green said in an earlier interview with ProPublica. "There are people who live in the streets of life, who don't live in the suites of life, who still have the discomforts of invidious discrimination."

Tell us your story: Though millions of instances of housing discrimination occur each year, only about 10,000 complaints are filed annually. Do you know firsthand about housing discrimination? Help us continue our investigation into fair housing by telling us about your experience.

It’s amazing, isn’t it?  There’s always time to pass bills to restrict civil liberties.  There’s always interest in spying on American citizens.  There’s always money for war and prisons.  There’s definitely always money to bail out some large company that took every opportunity to screw up.

But helping people get a fair shake in housing?  Helping people rebuild homes destroyed by a storm?  Oh, that we’ll need to debate, pick apart, and delay.

Good luck to Mr. Green.  I’ll drop a line to my representatives so they can reply with the obligatory head-pat “it’s of great concern, but don’t check the voting record, ‘K?” response in a few months.

If the action of people who are NOT prevented from making their own choices as to where they decide (or can afford) to live, happens to result in the fact that “America remains highly segregated” it’s neither evidence of laws being broken nor of un-enforcement but is merely evidence that people make their own economic decisions based on their own volition and capacity, as it ought be.

Discrimination is not an “end” that is to be measured & decided once the dust settles but a “means” employed with malicious intent. It is a deliberate and unlawful “action” not a result.  Not disparate impact but disparate intention.

“Testing” the housing intermediaries (landlords, banks) for violation of some standard which seeks to selectively distribute people including “Veterans, Women, Families with Children, Race and Persons with Disabilities” is a complete and ridiculous perversion of law and sensibilities.

Law ought protect freedom; not distribute “fairness.”


Jan. 20, 2013, 10:11 p.m.

March 29 2011 lockout after 22 years wrongfully foreclosed on. Homeless since
Been to 5 southern calif counties back forth only don’t qualify for emergency housing no matter older adult single women disabled on extremely low limited income ssi disability for years and homeless housing told me they are taking people for 2005 2007 waiting list and it would be 4 year more wait. I walked into housing authority’s they said I don’t qualify nothing there for me not even asking any questions about income disability zip
Turning noises up at me these workers need trained to understand every story is different come to hear I know someone who just got section 8 only honestly they didn’t need this yes it helps now they have more cash to spend partying very upsetting due to they already had roof over heads with their family pets partners
It’s all wrong how there’s a list all same for no matter who in California they showed me others who don’t need a roof over heads come first no matter where finanically they ate today honestly they’d be stupid not to take after waiting years !  But homeless after 22 years scared to death for get it sorry list not open you must wait until wrong unfaire bull

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Segregation Now

Segregation Now: Investigating America's Racial Divide

Investigating America’s racial divide in education, housing and beyond.

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