HUD-ED-DOT cooperation on housing and school integration: We were proud to be part of a "listening session" at the Department of Education this week highlighting school and housing integration efforts from around the U.S. (including representatives from Baltimore, New York City, Hartford, and St Louis). The convening also highlighted a new letter co-signed by the Secretaries of Education, Transportation, and Housing urging state and local education, housing, and transportation agencies to work together to advance racial and economic integration and to support HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule.
A new GAO Report on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit highlights several areas of concern regarding state administration and IRS oversight of the program, including this observation about the continuing use of "local approval" requirements in several state Qualified Allocation Plans, which go beyond the simple local notification required in the LIHTC statute:
"Allocating agencies notified local governments about proposed projects as required, but some also required letters of support from local governments. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has raised fair housing concerns about this practice, saying that local support requirements (such as letters) could have a discriminatory influence on the location of affordable housing."
The report also cites the ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit against the Treasury Department (Inclusive Communities Project, v. U.S. Department of Treasury and Office of Comptroller of the Currency, 2014) and the PRRAC-Lawyers Committee "Building Opportunity" report on civil rights best practices in the LIHTC program.
Section 8 portability update: HUD issued new guidance this week implementing last year's streamlining portability rule for the Housing Choice Voucher program. Along with restatements and updates of portability procedures, PIH Notice 2016-09 explains PHAs' AFFH responsibilities: "Affirmatively furthering fair housing...includes helping families use their vouchers to move from segregated to integrated areas, from racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPs), and from areas with disparities in access to opportunity within its jurisdiction and through portability moves outside of the jurisdiction." The guidance also reminds PHAs of their obligation to explain to clients the benefits of moving to lower poverty neighborhoods, and gives (weak) instructions on implementing the new requirement to expand PHA apartment listings with listings "outside areas of minority or poverty concentration."
We joined the City Project and other civil rights groups in comments on the Department of Interior draft 2016-2020 Environmental Justice Strategic Plan. Parks, beaches, pools, and recreation have been core civil rights issues since the beginning of the civil rights movement. We agree in principle with the five major goals of the Department's Plan and joined in suggestions to strengthen the Plan.
Other resources and events
Pediatricians and anti-poverty agencies: The American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) recent policy statement on child poverty encourages pediatricians to tackle "poverty-related disorders" through health screenings and interventions as well as address the "toxic effects of poverty" through program and policy advocacy. The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is hosting a national webinar to explore different ways pediatricians can address the detrimental effects of poverty on children's health. The webinar will be held on June 20th from 3-4 p.m. EDT. Click here to register and for more details.
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