Housing Laws

  • An article in CityLab examines how deep cuts to HUD and Health and Human Services programs in FY 2018 would impact chronically homeless individuals across the country. The president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 calls for deep cuts to the two federal agencies that provide the most significant funding for supportive housing, which offers homeless individuals who have severe mental illness with housing coupled with treatment and support services. Supportive housing has been shown to be cost effective, as it decreases the use of often-expensive public services and therefore saves taxpayers money. (CityLab, May 5)



  • A new study by Johns Hopkins University shows that racial disparities in subsidized housing have essentially disappeared over the past 40 years. The study shows that low-income black and white households currently have a nearly equal chance at living in public housing, subsidized units in privately owned multifamily buildings or market-rate units paid for by Section 8 vouchers. The current conditions mark a huge change from 1970s, when black households were twice as likely to live in public housing. However, the study reveals that disparities on the neighborhood level persist, as black households are nine times more likely to live in segregated neighborhoods with high poverty and lower home values.  The findings show the critical importance of enforcing fair housing laws, given the long history of housing discrimination against black households. (The Washington Post Wonkblog, May 5)


  • The City of Sacramento last week launched a pilot program that provides free access to electric Zipcars to the residents of four public housing sites. The program is funded through a $1.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, using cap-and-trade funds that businesses pay to offset their carbon emissions. The residents of each public housing site will gain free, on-demand access to two electric Zipcars, with the goal of increasing the accessibility of low-income households to health care, jobs and education. (The Sacramento Bee, March 13)


In Case You Missed It

  • A new book by Richard Rothstein examines the local, state and federal housing policies that mandated segregation and promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. According to Rothstein’s book “The Color of Law,” the current wealth gap between black and white households is almost entirely attributable to a range of discriminatory federal housing policies, which prohibited insuring of mortgages in and near predominantly black neighborhoods, subsidized home construction in the predominantly white suburbs, and prohibited black households from obtaining mortgages that would allow them to own homes in high-opportunity areas. Accordingly, black households gained substantially less home equity than their white counterparts. (NPR, May 3)

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