Expanding affordable housing opportunities for all people; fighting inequality
When change is in the air, open all the windows! A new
HBO Miniseries dramatizes fair housing conflict from the 1970's,
funny thing is: the issues have not changed much. "The Fair
Housing Fight in 'Show Me a Hero' Is Happening in Every City in
America" says CityLab.
Washington Post columnist Carlo Rotella chimes in, "But will the
public tune in?"
Pollssuggest a strong "maybe". Gallup reports
that 63% of Americans see income inequality as a serious social problem
that government should address. What is not as clear is whether
Americans see concentrations of poverty as a cause
of inequality. When it comes to
housing and communities, the struggle is between mainstream values (social equality) and personal self
interest (NIMBY). "Sure low income and minority households should have
access to schools, jobs, and safe and healthy conditions, but not in
my neighborhood." Voices helping to shape the connection between social isoation and inequality include celebrity urbanologist Richard Florida. Two
generations after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, and after a
decade of studies showing that concentrations of poverty are harmful
to children, and afterthree years of the public recognition that "inequality"
plagues our economic system, Americans are slowly waking from the social
amnesia induced by Presidents Nixon's Southern strategy, Reagan's"Morning inAmerica", the Bushes and two moderate southern Democrats,
Carter and Clinton. So where
from here? Since early this summer, RHINO has argued that civic
leaders (for example, RHINO's Inclusion Partners) should open the civic windows to the changes that are sweeping the country. Take a
page from Rahm Emmanuel who said "You never want a serious
crisis to go to waste. … This crisis provides the opportunity for
us to do things that you could not before." Many Ohio
communities have seized the opportunity to revisit the dream of social equality. Too many more are still hiding
behind "business as usual" work plans. Because change is in the air, inclusion Partners have opportunities to push the discussion forward. Justkeep in mind that partisan politics is the third rail of
true social change. Keep your inclusion efforts local, personal, and
far political conservatives have argued against
inclusion policies by claiming that they want to defendlocal authority (this generation's form of "states rights"). RHINOsays: call their bluff! Create local inclusion policies! For
advocates and tenant activists, the work plan is a little different. Local actions to
mobilize low incomehouseholds
and publicize the barriers to social inclusion could amplify the
urgency of the needs and give voices to the voiceless victims of
inequality. Maybe if/when Black Lives
Matter takes on the issue of the human costs of social isolation
(including mass Incarceration), low
income households can become more directly engaged. Advocates and
activists can also work to mobilize other socially isolated groups
(eg. organizations that represent persons with disabilities and LGBT
rights organizations) to dramatize barriers to their inclusion. Until
the voiceless can speak for themselves, advocates and
activists will be the key to identifying the overt and covert barriers
that perpetuate social isolation. The Community Action League in California
and the Coalition for Economic Survival, for examples, played
important roles in amplifying the voices of suburban Housing Choice Voucher
households who were being harassed by Los AngelesCounty deputies and local officials. Listen to CES Director Larry Gross confront Mayor Rex Farris on the radio in 2012.
“Lancaster officials seem to be wishing that their city was located
in 1963 Mississippi, instead of 2012 LA County.” This
fall, when the state of Ohio begins work on a new Consolidated Plan would be a great time for advocates to identify those barriers
and give voice to the voiceless...and for inclusion Partners to
recommend new strategies to fight inequality and promote inclusion.
Can you imagine a coaltion of civic leaders, advocates, and grass
roots citizens united beneath the banner of "Tear down those
Inclusion in the news
Startling case of voucher discrimination and harassment in LA County RHINO has not seem any other coverage of this important story. This past weekend CityLab reports: "A recent Justice Department complaint reveals the county colluded with two cities and the sheriff’s department to push black, Section 8 families out of certain neighborhoods.Michelle Ross moved her family to the north Los Angeles County city of Palmdale in 2009 hoping to put her children in an environment where she no longer had to worry about crime. She was welcomed by her neighbors when she first arrived. But when the neighbors found out that Ross was a participant in the federal Section 8 housing voucher program, she found herself with new worries. She became the target of bullying and harassment—not just from neighborhood residents, but from the police as well. What Ross did not know was that Palmdale elected officials had colluded with the L.A. county’s housing authority and sheriff’s department to scare African-American families in the voucher program out of the city. So says a Fair Housing Act complaint filed on July 20 by the U.S. Department of Justice against the county and Palmdale, which was settled the same day. The complaint and settlement also involve the neighboring city of Lancaster, which was accused of employing the same discriminatory tactics. " Cops, vigilantes sounds like the old South. Read the justice department press release here.
Why is stable rental housing a Fair housing issue? Housing
advocates know that Fair Housing and Affordable Rental Housing have
been in "silos" for decades. Here's why that's wrong:
stable rental housing anchors diverse communities
households in protected classes are disproportionately in rental housing
households in protected classes need affordable housing because of lower household incomes.
Turns out that the Pope is not just a climate wonk
his encyclical on climate, Pope Francis had some things to say about
affordable housing, segregation and urban design “How beautiful those
cities which overcome paralyzing mistrust, integrate those who are
different and make this very integration a new factor of development!
How attractive are those cities which, even in their architectural
design, are full of spaces which connect, relate and favour the
recognition of others!”
Of course he shouldn't be spouting off on these issues because he's not a sociologist, right?