A new policy from the Department of Housing and Urban Development has created a new rule that enables the federal government to track diversity in neighborhoods across America and then “push policies to change those it deems discriminatory.”
Per HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan “the department will make sure that there are “neighborhoods of choice” and “geographies of opportunity.” …HUD will rethink how to introduce affordable housing into all communities.”
It is sort of a “disparate impact” for housing. If a minority representation in a given zip code is less than what is “should be” the government can deem that in itself to be a result of discriminatory practices. Per the HUD Secretary, a zip code can cause poverty.
Per the article “data from this discrimination database would be used with zoning laws, housing finance policy, infrastructure planning and transportation to alleviate alleged discrimination and segregation.” That sounds all well and good. Zoning laws are used by local jurisdictions to direct what type of housing is built and what commercial development takes place. HUD already has used existing Fair Housing rules to dictate to local jurisdictions what can and cannot be built in a given area (Westchester County case.)
Discrimination is already illegal and lawsuits happen on a regular basis in housing related to leasing and advertising. One of the original purposes of the Fair Housing Act was to replace ghettos with integrated communities. The new rule can be seen as a way to further that goal.
There are concerns that the federal government may be overstepping by using HUD and the Fair Housing Act to not just create rules for a level playing field but to actively force local jurisdictions to forego income from “highest and best use” development in order to create low income housing in zip codes that currently lack minority representation.