Housing Desegregation and Federal Policy

Housing Desegregation and Federal Policy

Housing Desegregation and Federal Policy

Housing Desegregation and Federal Policy


Housing desegregation is one of America's last civil rights frontiers. Drawing on the expertise of social scientists, civil rights attorneys, and policy analysts, these original essays present the first comprehensive examination of housing integration and federal policy covering the last two decades. This collection examines the ambiguities of federal fair housing law, the shifting attitudes of white and black Americans toward housing integration, the debate over racial quotas in housing, and the efficacy of federal programs.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination in federally assisted housing, and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 banned discrimination in most of the private housing market. Housing Desegregation and Federal Policy shows that America has made only modest progress in desegregating housing, despite these federal policies.
Providing a balanced assessment of federal policies and programs is complicated because of disagreement over the nature of the federal government's role in this area. Disagreements over the meaning of federal law coupled with white and black disinterest in desegregation have compounded the difficulties in promoting residential integration.
The authors employ research findings as well as legal and policy analysis in examining these complex issues. They consider a broad range of issues related to housing desegregation and integration, offering new sources of evidence and ideas for future research and policymaking.


The impetus for this reader arose out of my experience with civil rights policy and legislative events over a six-year period as program manager for fair housing research and evaluation issues for the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U. S. Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At close range, I have observed most of the debates, decisions, and indecision as hud has sought to implement both Title vi of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in federally assisted housing, and Title viii of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which outlawed discrimination in most of the private housing market. the strengths and limitations of these two legislative mandates have much to do with the current state of the movement for housing desegregation in America. Virtually all legislation is, however, flawed if only in the inability to anticipate future problems and the ingenuity of men and women in circumventing the law. Walter Mondale's promise on the floor of Congress in 1968 that the soon-to-be-passed Fair Housing Law would replace segregated ghettos by "truly integrated housing patterns" has proved to be just such an unfulfilled prediction. a variety of local and national— social, political, and programmatic—issues have contributed to this still incomplete civil rights promise. This book provides an accounting of much that has happened between the passage of those civil rights mandates and the present.

From within the walls of hud, hundreds of civil servants and political appointees have sought over the past two decades the means to enforce the country's civil rights requirements, knowing all too well the obstacles in their path. Commitment has worked beside disaffection and confusion in an effort to enforce ambiguous, somewhat unpopular laws. Programs and regulations have frequently become the subject of litigation and legislative revision. H U D's civil rights mandate has thus unevenly evolved as a result of a variety of federal and state court decisions, executive branch programmatic initiatives, congressional revanche, and sporadic regulatory initiatives.

Having witnessed many of these external and internal pressures regarding the issue of housing desegregation, I felt pushed to provide a wider audience with a broad-ranging, "multi-disciplinary" assessment of the diverse voices, interests, and evidence heard from my vantage point at hud. At one time I believed that holding a conference, bringing together a range of viewpoints and evidence, could facilitate a clearer mandate for action either within hud or without. I now realize that no single event, sharing viewpoints and data, will overcome the substantial political and institutional obstacles in the path of achieving housing desegregation.

This book is itself only one step out of many needed to clarify, extend, and promote increased understanding and perhaps greater tolerance for housing . . .

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