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The Future of Fair Housing - Report of the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

Forty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity was convened to travel across the country to collect information and hear testimony about the nature and extent of illegal housing discrimination, its connection with government policy and practice, and its effect on our communities. The Commission held hearings in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Boston, and Atlanta.

On December 9, 2008, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the Commission reported on its findings.

  Ensure Compliance with the "Affirmatively Furthering
    Fair Housing" Obligation in Federal Housing Programs

Administrative changes to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program that would increase access of eligible families to high opportunity communities should be adopted,[241] including expanding authorization of higher rents where necessary, improving portability of vouchers across jurisdictional lines, re-establishing housing mobility programs to assist voucher-holders seeking to move to higher opportunity areas, creating strong incentives and performance goals for administering agencies, and providing incentives to recruit landlords in high opportunity areas into the program.

A new national housing mobility voucher program should be established for the express purpose of providing desegregated housing options to families in the most segregated metropolitan areas. This purely voluntary program would be targeted to families living in the most poverty concentrated and racially isolated communities, and voucher use would be limited to low poverty and high opportunity communities throughout the metropolitan area.

HUD and the Department of Treasury should actively support audit testing of discrimination against voucher holders in federally assisted housing (where such discrimination is prohibited), and take appropriate enforcement action against violators.

Strong fair housing regulations and guidelines for state administration of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program should be promulgated, including new requirements for site selection, affirmative marketing, and reporting of racial/ethnic data and strong incentives to site LIHTC housing in higher-opportunity areas.

Public housing redevelopment (including a reauthorized HOPE VI program) must include measures to replace all housing units that have been lost, and offer quality fair housing-conscious relocation of displaced residents. Redevelopment plans must support the right of those former residents who wish to return to the redeveloped housing site, while at the same time locating the remainder of replacement housing units in non-segregated neighborhoods and communities throughout the metropolitan region.[242]

Other federal programs (including Project-based Section 8 program, the CDBG Program, the HOME program, and the new National Housing Trust Fund) should also be strengthened to avoid re-concentration of low income families and to promote racially and economically diverse communities.

HUD and the USDA should better coordinate their efforts in rural areas to ensure that the fair housing needs of rural areas are not overlooked. USDA should conduct, under contract, additional testing of its rural housing projects and enforcement action should be taken by that testing. Program sanctions should be invoked by USDA pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding between USDA and HUD against rural housing properties that discriminate. USDA should also develop regulations and procedures to facilitate that process.

With regard to housing for persons with disabilities, HUD and other federal agencies must increase their stock of accessible units to address the needs of applicants with disabilities. HUD must clarify its regulations and policy to ensure that federally subsidized homeownership units comply with accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act and under Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. Recognizing the lack of accessible properties in the private market, HUD should establish a well-funded national modification fund to pay for reasonable modifications that are necessary to make private units accessible to (or at least usable by) people with disabilities.

Next Section: Fair Housing Obligations of Federal Grantees


Footnotes

[241] Testimony of john powell (Los Angeles); Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Geography of Opportunity: Review of Opportunity Mapping Initiatives (July 2008) (Los Angeles Exhibit).

[242] See Testimony of Judith Browne-Dianis (Houston); Seicshnaydre, In Search of a Just Housing Policy Post-Katrina (Houston exhibit); Civil Rights Statement On Hope VI Reauthorization (Houston exhibit).

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Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund   Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law   NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund   National Fair Housing Alliance
  The Future of Fair Housing
Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, NFHA has partnered with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund to create a national, bipartian fair housing commission to investigate the alarming state of U.S. housing in the wake of the subprime housing debacle.
On December 9, 2008, the commission released its findings and recommendations in this comprehensive report.
Appendices
Appendix C: Commissioner Correspondence on Foreclosure Relief Implementation
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