Local leaders applaud new HUD rule targeting segregation

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced details of a final rule Wednesday designed to help cities reduce housing segregation by equipping them with new tools to identify inequities in housing and come up with strategies for promoting integration in the community.

The rule is designed to clarify guidelines established in the Fairing House Act of 1968 that obligates cities that receive HUD funding to ensure all residents have access to affordable, quality housing.

Mayor Betsy Hodges expressed strong support for the new rule.

“Today’s announcement will provide our city with the new tools we need to help combat the housing disparities we have long struggled to overcome,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to working with our partners to dismantle barriers and create more inclusive policies that will help end inequities in our housing market, and bring us much closer to achieving the goal of One Minneapolis.”

HUD has committed to providing Minneapolis and other cities data-driven analysis and technical assistance to provide a clearer picture of the housing markets.

The rule also calls on the city develop equitable housing policies and goals through a community-engagement process.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro said the rule will empower cities around the country to move toward policies that promote stronger communities for all residents.

“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,” he said in a statement.

The final rule responds to recommendations in a 2010 Government Accountability Office report and from other local leaders that have called for HUD to clarify and simplify the responsibilities cities have in complying with the Fair Housing Act.

Congressman Keith Ellison said the rule “moves our nation towards real solutions and creates communities of opportunity for all Americans.”

“HUD’s action today will make it a little easier for families with children, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian American Pacific Islanders, new Americans, people with disabilities and other under-served Americans to make ends meet,” he said.

Any jurisdiction that receives federal housing and community development funds under the new rule must take steps to expand housing options for all residents, reduce segregation and concentrated areas of poverty. 

Sheila Crowley, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the rule gives more teeth to the Fair Housing Act.

“This is a gigantic step in the right direction,” she said in a statement. “The issuance of HUD’s final rule today puts local and state policymakers on notice that fair housing is an obligation, not a choice.”

University of Minnesota law professor Myron Orfield, who released a study earlier this year examining forces contributing to high rates of racial segregation in the Twin Cities, said local leaders need to collaborate on policies that encourage more affordable housing to be built in the suburbs, rather than concentrated in the central cities, which results in more low-income, racially segregated neighborhoods.

He is also critical of the proliferation of charter schools that have resulted in highly segregated schools throughout the Twin Cities.

Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) has also been outspoken about the issue.

He said he’s encouraged by a couple of new affordable housing developments in his ward, which includes high-income areas like the North Loop. The Cameron, for instance, is a new project underway in the neighborhood at 756 N. 4th St. that will have 44 studio apartments for people who make 50 to 60 percent of the area median income.

He said he’d like to see more of these developments in other affluent areas of the city.   

“What we need is a deconcentration of poverty and have more affordable housing in middle and upper income areas,” he said.