By Aline Sredni
In the last month, the Supreme Court released some really important decisions. Most people have heard about the court’s views on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Marriage Equality. However, these were not the only decisions issued. One of the other decisions that didn’t make the forefront of the news was the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. This is an important ruling in the fight for fair housing practices around the country, and we are celebrating it here at JCUA.
The Inclusive Communities Project successfully sued the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for disproportionately allocating federal tax credits to build affordable housing in low-income, minority communities. This decision upholds and strengthens the Fair Housing Act of 1968, by ruling that it is unconstitutional to set housing policies that not only explicitly, but also IMPLICITLY discriminate against a protected minority. In other words, the disparate impact of a potential landlord or housing authority’s decision, if at all racially biased, could be considered unconstitutional.
Municipalities across the U.S. have been sustaining a vicious cycle of segregation and marginalization. Instead of building subsidized housing in racially and economically diverse communities that would potentially give low-income individuals and families greater access to education, jobs and other types of programs, local governments frequently opt to place subsidized housing in poorer neighborhoods. This practice has resulted in generations of segregation and a separation of wealth. This ruling is a powerful reminder to local and state governments that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 does not, in any way, approve the spending of federal housing money in ways that perpetuate and prolong segregation of low-income communities in this country.
JCUA’s Community Ventures Program (CVP), which gives zero-interest loans to developers and community based organizations that help provide affordable housing and economic development, regards this as huge win! We welcome a more leveled field regarding equitable housing access for everyone in Chicago. While only time will tell if this ruling will ultimately help to desegregate neighborhoods, it is a great step in the right direction.
For more information about this ruling and other housing related news, check out these articles:
- The Atlantic Citylab: “What the Supreme Court’s ‘Disparate Impact’ Decision Means for the Future of Fair Housing”
- The Atlantic Citylab: “Wealth Doesn’t Trickle Down, But the Effects of Housing Discrimination Do”
- Housing Wire: “HUD Announces Final Rule On Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Project”