PRRAC Update  

February 23, 2012   




Welcome to the PRRAC Update!  Every other Thursday, PRRAC sends out a brief digest of news, recent publications, and other points of interest related to our work in housing, education, and health. We welcome feedback and encourage you to forward to others. To join the PRRAC email list, click here.



New rules for HUD's HOME programPRRAC submitted comments last week on proposed new rules for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, described by HUD as "the largest federal block grant to the States and local governments that is designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households."  PRRAC's comments supported the expanded affirmative marketing provisions in the rule, but raised concerns about unintended discriminatory consequences of certain proposed tenant selection provisions.  We also supported the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities' comments, which argue for more explicit discrimination protections for Section 8 voucher holders applying to HOME funded properties.   


CERD Treaty raised in Affordable Care Act amicus brief:  PRRAC joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and other groups in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on the "Medicaid Expansion Provision" portion of the challenge to the Obama health care law currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The amicus brief, drafted by Martha Davis of Northeastern Law School and Risa Kaufman with the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic, argues that the Medicaid Expansion Provision, by seeking to mitigate racial disparities in access to health care, is responsive to U.S. treaty obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  The brief cites the U.N. CERD Committee's 2008 "Concluding Observations" on health care disparities in the U.S., which echo PRRAC's coalition shadow report submitted to the Committee earlier that year.  Davis and Kaufman also point out that, since its passage, U.S. officials have repeatedly cited the Affordable Care Act to the U.N. as evidence of U.S. efforts to reduce disparities in access to health care.   



Other news and resources


More children living in concentrated poverty:  The KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot  from the Annie E. Casey Foundation was released today.  The snapshot reveals that nearly 8 million children live in areas of concentrated poverty, places where at least 30 percent of residents have an annual income below the federal poverty level - about $22,000 for a family of four. This represents a 25 percent increase, or about 1.6 million more children, since 2000.   In addition to the national picture, the snapshot provides data on children in high-poverty areas by state and for the 50 largest cities in the country - and indicates that children in the south and southwest, as well as those in urban and rural areas, are more likely to live in such poor communities. African-American, American Indian, and Latino children are six to nine times more likely to be found in them than their white counterparts.  This analysis is, unfortunately, consistent with other recent research released by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and supported by PRRAC.  


The Shrinking Supply of Affordable Housing:  The National Low Income Housing Coalition's new Housing Spotlight report also provides alarming detail on the growing gap between housing need and rental housing supply for "extremely low income families" (families below 30% of median area income).


"Reviving Magnet Schools: Strengthening a Successful Choice Option":  For more optimistic news, see the Civil Rights Project's latest policy brief, by Genevieve Siegel-Hawley and Erica Frankenberg, which found that magnet schools funded in the 2010-2013 federal funding cycle reported more inclusive admissions processes, a resurgence of interest in pursuing racially diverse enrollments and an increased willingness to allow out-of-district students to attend magnet programs.  The policy brief also shows high levels of demand for magnet schools.




Philip Tegeler

Saba Bireda

Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Washington, DC