ACLU Highlights Steps Needed to Ensure Fair Housing Practices

June 25, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Testifying before a joint meeting of two House subcommittees, the American Civil Liberties Union today highlighted a number of concrete steps that it says the Department of Housing and Urban Development should take to reestablish its leadership in promoting fair housing practices and combating urban segregation.

“Racial residential segregation is one of the biggest driving forces behind urban poverty and racial inequality in America,” said Philip Tegeler, Legal Director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, who testified today in front of the congressional subcommittees investigating ways to fight discrimination through fair housing practices.

“HUD can take one of two roads: it can passively allow segregation and continued poverty and racial inequality to continue, or it can actively seek to promote fair housing in our metropolitan areas,” Tegeler said.

Tegeler testified this afternoon in front of a joint hearing held by the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Marge Roukema (R-NJ), and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY), of the House Financial Services Committee. The hearing was titled “Fighting Discrimination Against the Disabled and Minorities through Fair Housing Enforcement.”

At the hearing, Tegeler highlighted a number of affirmative steps that he said HUD should consider in the fight to reduce continued poverty and racial inequality in America’s urban centers. Tegeler said that, among other things, HUD or Congress should:

  • Implement more meaningful review of how its housing decisions affect racial segregation. In recent years, Tegeler said, it appears that HUD has been lax with its legal obligation to review and take steps to ameliorate any discriminatory impact its actions might have. HUD also must update its reporting of racial data and make these data accessible to the public and civil rights advocates.
  • Enforce civil rights law and fair housing among HUD grantees. HUD needs to enforce greater compliance with civil rights laws and fair housing regulations among its various state and local grantees, which have over the past several years been afforded greater authority in determining how federal money is being spent.
  • Promote fair housing in the Section 8 voucher program. Congress should restore funding for “housing mobility” programs that help families who want to move from high poverty to low poverty neighborhoods. HUD should also adjust the system for setting voucher rents to give Section 8 families more meaningful housing choices outside of segregated neighborhoods.

The ACLU’s testimony can be found at:

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