On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court voted in favor of disparate impact in the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. the Inclusive Communities Project, a win for equal housing opportunity.

Then the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a new rule July 8 that will help agencies like the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs fight the root causes of housing segregation. (See the full rule below.)

The new rule was announced in Chicago, a city that has been the poster child of racially segregated communities and immense gentrification. The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, made the announcement on the former site of Cabrini Green, one of the nation’s most notoriously dangerous public housing developments, part of which is now home to a massive Target, plus luxury apartments and row-style townhomes.

What this ruling means for Chicago, Baltimore and other cities with reputations for segregation is that communities that bypass the law will be held accountable for fair housing implementation.

According to the new rules, cities and towns throughout the nation will be required to publicly release information about their housing patterns and racial segregation every three to five years. Those communities will also be required to set goals to follow to ensure they stay on track with eliminating housing scrutiny toward minorities and improve the housing opportunities for people regardless of race, sex, country of origin and religion.

As in the case of the Texas agency, many communities have brushed regulations under the rug in an attempt to bring more affordable housing to people who need it while developing housing structures in areas that are populated predominantly by minorities.

“As a former mayor, I know firsthand that strong communities are vital to the well-being and prosperity of families,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro in a statement.

“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.”

The rules announced by HUD are specifically for communities that receive HUD funding. In addition to being awarded with the government funds, the cities and towns will receive guidance and technical assistance, as well as data, to help with the most effective decisions.

HUD’s final rule is in response to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report recommendation that found participants in the funding program needed more assistance to determine where affordable housing was most needed.

To give participants of the program a more seamless transition, the rule will be implemented in phases, which start 30 days after publication.

AFFH Final Rule

Email Kimberly Manning.

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