By now you’ve probably heard the news that two Republican legislators have introduced bills in both the House and Senate that would remove funding for HUD’s assessment tools and tracking/database capabilities. This is a dangerous move for two reasons:
This data is used by researchers across the country, along with state and local governments, and nonprofits, to determine the need for affordable housing, and Fair Housing Act enforcement. Baltimore’s Black families have been subjected to discriminatory practices, not only by landlords and banks, but by its own government, for 50+ years. A landmark lawsuit, Thompson v HUD, resulted in a large settlement for families, along with the Baltimore Housing Mobility program — a program that, while not as successful as it should be, due to the continuation of discriminatory practices, including economic redlining — has helped many families move from neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods with greater opportunity. Removing the ability to track where we’re seeing the greatest need for affordability and enforcement will allow racist policy to flourish, in communities where affordability and Fair Housing mean the stigmatization and discrimination against the poor and people of color.
The second effect these bills will have — it’s a first step towards gutting the Fair Housing Act altogether. Removing the ability to track outcomes would mean the current administration would have leverage to claim a lack of need for enforcement, allowing previously outlawed discrimination to once again become the norm.
While the systems we have in place are far from perfect, we cannot allow a return to widespread housing discrimination, particularly against vulnerable populations. As we previously outlined in this post, we’ve stigmatized public housing residents to the point where we no longer look at who actually lives in public housing and who actually relies on these government programs. Gutting the Fair Housing Act would disproportionately affect women, the elderly, and children.
Again, please Contact your Maryland Representatives and Senators and ask them to fight against this plan to send housing regulations back to the 1950s. You can go here if you don’t know which Congressional District you live in. It’s only through creating stable neighborhoods for all our citizens that we will see a thriving city.