Earlier this month, the Supreme Court (am I allowed to call it the “Kennedy Court” yet? That would be fun…) made serious waves in the administrative law world when it handed down a ruling that will make it much easier for activists to prove local-level discrimination against minority candidates for low income housing. Even Justice Kennedy, who led the majority’s charge in favor of an expanded disparate impact analysis, was forced to admit that the ruling could cause an eventual return to racial quota systems.
We’re not quite there yet, but rest assured—the crack team at Housing and Urban Development, led by San Antonio golden boy Julian Castro, is keeping an eye on things.
A new rule, floated by HUD and released today by the Obama Administration, will require cities and towns to to look for patterns of racial bias in local housing. Officials will then be forced to report every 3 to 5 years on the state of the housing market, and self-set goals for reducing segregation in their jurisdictions.
This information won’t just go into a bureaucratic vacuum; instead, it’ll head straight for—you guessed it—another government database. WaPo explains:
The centerpiece of the new rule is a vast trove of geographic data covering every community in the country — its racial makeup, its poverty rate, its concentration of housing vouchers and public housing, as well as the quality of its schools and its public transit. Nearly all of this data, already gathered by the government, comes from publicly available sources like the Census. But HUD hopes the database will enable communities to more clearly track where poverty and segregation overlap, where housing voucher recipients live relative to good schools, which neighborhoods contain no affordable housing at all.
The premise of the rule is that all of this mapped data will make hidden barriers visible — and that once communities see them, they will be much harder to ignore.
Castro, who has a history of using race-based messaging tactics to work his way into the hearts of local minority populations, is of course touting this as a victory for equal opportunity, saying, “Unfortunately, too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP code should never determine a child’s future. This important step will give local leaders the tools they need to provide all Americans with access to safe, affordable housing in communities that are rich with opportunity.”
Conservatives and local government advocates, however, are already looking for ways to stop rollout of the new policy. Conservatives in the House have already tried to defund the rule’s implementation. Activists on and off the Hill are quick to point out that, in addition to falling into the quota trap mentioned by Justice Kennedy, this rule forces communities to desegregate against the will of even minority residents.
This rule comes as part of a renewed push by President Obama to implement policies (allegedly) designed to combat “racially-charged” violence like what we’ve seen in Ferguson and Baltimore.DONATE
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