Housing News Roundup: June 25, 2015
SCOTUS Finds that Fair Housing Act Covers Disparate Impacts
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that disparate impact claims are covered under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which was designed to prevent discrimination in buying, renting and financing homes. The ruling declared that the law applied even when the discrimination wasn’t overt or intentional. “Much progress remains to be made in our Nation’s continuing struggle against racial isolation,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. “The Court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act’s continuing role in moving the Nation toward a more integrated society.” The Inclusive Communities Project had argued that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ policies facilitating the development of affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods have perpetuated housing segregation.
Source: Business Insider
Neighborhood Racial Disparities
Researchers at Stanford have pointed to the neighborhood gap as a major factor in economic disparities between whites and blacks. The study found that even when white and black families have similar incomes, blacks (according to Census data) live in neighborhoods with a much lower median income and drastically different crime rates, school performance, and other core neighborhood quality indicators. A more modest neighborhood gap was found between white and Latino households. The Milwaukee, Wisc. and Newark, N.J. metropolitan areas have the largest racial neighborhood gaps. Metro areas with more neighborhood equality among racial groups, after accounting for income, include El Paso, Tex.; Riverside, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Portland, Ore.; and Sacramento, Calif.
D.C.’s ‘Traumatic’ Environment is Hurting Classroom Performances
Washington, D.C. children suffer disproportionally from exposure to trauma, leaving many feeling unsafe, unable to concentrate, and unable to regulate their emotions. The effects of these traumatic experiences – which include poverty, homelessness and gun violence – can carry over into the classroom, further hurting a child’s long-term development. “Education reforms in the District will not fully succeed if schools do not address the trauma that students bring with them to class,” according to a new report from the D.C. Children’s Law Center.
Source: Washington Post
Why Is Section 8 a Bad Word?
The Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8, was designed to help families move out of high-poverty and high-crime neighborhoods and instead afford decent housing in a community with low-crime and high-performing schools. However, the term “Section 8” is popularly used to describe run-down housing, a stereotype that too often rings true. This partially reflects program elements that can work against voucher recipients, including the fair-market rent calculation, as well as landlord choices about the acceptance of vouchers.
Negative Equity While Housing Markets Rebound
Despite consensus that housing prices are on the rebound, there is a segment of the housing market with a less rosy picture. Approximately 15% of homes valued under $200,000 in March 2015 were worth less than their mortgages, a condition known as “negative equity.” Research points to negative equity affecting minorities at a higher rate then others. “Without the Great Recession, home equity values for black and white families at the same income and education levels were headed toward parity by 2050,” the ACLU said in its report. “As a result of the Great Recession, however, the gap between black and white home equity will likely remain large decades into the future.”
Source: CBS News