Minority Housing Needs and Civil Rights Enforcement
John M. Goering
In May 1985, a police helicopter firebombed a building in Philadelphia encouraged in part because local residents in the "neat, middle-income neighborhood" complained of the dirt, rats, and noise coming from the building ( Gruson, 1985: 1; Peterson, 1985: A1). The same day, the New York Times reported the results of a survey of New Yorkers which revealed that the majority lived in segregated neighborhoods, half were aware that their friends used racial slurs, and most felt there was a "harsher" mood in race relations. The survey reported that some blacks were expressing more conservative views towards race relations. One black teenager, reportedly shocked at finding books by Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver in his mother's bookcase, asked "how could you even be associated with that kind of revolutionary, radical philosophy?" ( Dowd, 1985: B4).
The desire of black residents in Philadelphia to preserve the character of their neighborhood and homes, and the antipathy of some New Yorkers toward radical action, are snapshots of a shifting mosaic of minority attitudes, needs, and strategies for change. Is there a growing national mood of conservatism in the area of housing for minorities? Is there less to complain about and less to fight for in the area of housing and fair housing? What are the principle differences affecting the choices and options of minorities? What, in brief, are the obstacles to equity in minority housing opportunities in the 1980s?
The purpose of this chapter is to address these questions by examining three specific features of minority housing conditions and opportunities. The three areas are: 1) minority housing problems; 2) housing discrimi-