The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
The Future of Fair Housing
- Table of Contents
- About the Commission
- Executive Summary
- I. Housing Discrimination and Segregation Continue
- II. Fair Housing Enforcement at HUD is Failing
- III. Fair Housing Enforcement at the Justice Department is Weak
- IV. The Need for Strong Fair Housing Programs
- V. Fair Housing and the Foreclosure Crisis
- VI. Federal Housing Programs
- VII. Fair Housing Obligations of Federal Grantees
- VIII. Regionalism and Fair Housing Enforcement
- IX. The President's Fair Housing Council
- X. Fair Housing Education: A Missing Piece
- XI. The Necessity of Fair Housing Research
- XII. Conclusion
- Appendix A: Emerging Fair Housing Issues
- Appendix B: International Disapproval of U.S. Fair Housing Policy
- Appendix C:
- Appendix D: Commission Witnesses and Staff
The Necessity of Fair Housing Research
Civil rights-related housing research at the federal level must be strengthened and expanded. Although there are good sources of research in some areas, many of which are cited in this report, much more work, and rigorous work, will be needed to support the report’s recommendations and advance the principles of fair housing. This research expansion should include initiatives that are cross-cutting and include the relationship between diverse housing and schools, transportation, jobs, and health care. Fair housing research must therefore be a key HUD responsibility, and also be included in programmatic issues at other federal agencies, a process that could be encouraged and coordinated by the President’s Fair Housing Council.
The research area must be expanded in at least three areas: (1) collecting and making available data on which strong fair housing strategies can be built; (2) developing substantive research in areas that are important for fair housing activities; and (3) addressing how people and communities react to residential diversity and what actions can incentivize and encourage diverse communities.
HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) historically had strong funding and support for fair housing-related research. That research base should be reestablished and should support academics studying the benefits of residential integration/diversity and its value to education, employment, and corporations in our global economy.
Fair housing issues should no longer be the last of a list of projects considered by HUD’s PD&R office. Instead, fair housing perspectives must be integrated into all of HUD’s research activities. Former PD&R Assistant Secretary Margery Austin Turner testified that
Issues of race, ethnicity, segregation, and exclusion should be explicitly incorporated into all of HUD’s research. This ... requires that researchers seriously consider the ways in which outcomes may differ because of past and continuing patterns of discrimination, segregation, and inequality. For example, research designed to evaluate alternative strategies for preventing foreclosures must consider the racial and ethnic characteristics of the at-risk homeowners, but should also take into account racial and ethnic differences in wealth, employment security, and credit history. It must include an evaluation of programs designed to return foreclosed properties to active use so that they do not destabilize the surrounding neighborhoods; such a study should consider relative effectiveness for minority and White neighborhoods.
Strengthened Data Collection Strategies and Accessible Data Will Be Increasingly Important to Achieving Diverse and Strong Communities
Reliable data will be a core requirement for heightened enforcement and for the reformed affirmatively furthering strategies described in this report. Data on patterns of racial segregation, racially and ethnically transitional areas, and the composition of federally funded housing must be reliable and readily available in usable formats for researchers, communities and enforcers alike.
Racial and ethnic demographic data must be available to judge the impact of programs as well as the siting of new housing: to assess the effect of lending and foreclosure rescue programs and their effect on segregated living patterns; and to assess the areas that would benefit from increased diversity. Among the data sources that must be explored is census data, including the American Community Survey, in readily accessible formats for use at the block level in local communities to assess indicators of neighborhood segregation, relative wealth, household income, age and disability.
Disability data is often overlooked but requires new focus and attention. As people with disabilities continue to move into communities, and housing programs are developed to meet their specific needs, assessment of the numbers of people and the types of housing they need will become increasingly important. Because much of the accessible housing stock in subsidized housing is in smaller one bedroom and efficiency units, studies of the number of types of units needed by families with one or more disabilities will be needed, as will data that can be used as that housing stock is expanded.
PD&R should assess the data collection and assessment needs associated with analysis of Home Mortgage Act Disclosure (HMDA) data. New HMDA data sets may be needed; continuing challenges will include resources to assess HMDA and current census data and to increase the availability of data about subprime lending and foreclosure patterns combined with racial and ethnic data. Market share data by lender should be collected and made available combined with census data. Homeowners insurance data that permits analysis of applications made, policies written, claims made, and business not written by race, ethnicity and income could be collected in the same way that HMDA data are collected.
Occupancy data for subsidized housing and tax credit properties will continue to be necessary as part of the affirmatively furthering fair housing initiatives. In 2006, the state of Massachusetts passed An Act Relative to Data Collection in Affordable Housing that collects more expansive information about occupancy patterns, including race, ethnicity and disability data. Federal data requirements for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program now mirror this requirement and need to be quickly implemented.
The housing needs of families with children and families with a household member who is disabled presents another potential subject for national research. Such research could inform discussions about the need for units with higher numbers of bedrooms in the housing stock. A further area of research should include the effect on families with children of occupancy standards, and the further effect of such standards based on race and national origin.
Consideration should be given to creation of a fair housing impact review system for housing based on the Massachusetts model of data collection. Ginny Hamilton, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston, testified that, "Just as developments are required to undergo an environmental impact review before being approved, government funders should require a Fair Housing Impact Review to identify and mitigate any negative impact on protected classes identified by federal and state fair housing laws. A Fair Housing Impact Review would promote housing developments that are open to a wider variety of residents, including racial diversity, people with disabilities, families with children, and Section 8 holders." Such an impact process could be developed using data already being collected in the LIHTC program; HUD should adopt a similar data collection process for public and assisted housing. Residential housing pattern data must be considered as part of this type of impact analysis.
All of the data should be readily available to researchers and communities in readily usable formats without cost.
Substantive Fair Housing Research Should Be Expanded
Margery Austin Turner also suggested the expansion of substantive fair housing research: "The federal fair housing research agenda should address: 1) the persistence of housing market discrimination and efforts to combat it; 2) the availability and assets of diverse neighborhoods and strategies for educating Americans about them; and 3) the dynamics of neighborhood racial change and strategies for nurturing stable residential diversity." These three prongs of research must be integrated into all of HUD’s research and policy initiatives.
In addition, a reformed research function should include "incentives to research and publish articles on the exact nature, extent and qualities of the connection between fair housing and equality in education, and to propose public policies to address both issues in combination." Similar incentives should be offered to support research on the types of health care services, transportation, counseling, job and other services that might be needed to support diverse communities.
Funding for these activities should not be taken from fair housing enforcement or education sources. In particular, existing research on the desirability of diverse neighborhoods and the mechanisms needed to develop and sustain diverse neighborhoods must be funded and directed toward support of incentives and activities that support diverse communities.
The Role of the Fair Housing Industry and Fair Housing Organizations
The housing industry, including real estate brokers and agents, rental managers, and affordable housing developers, as well as funding partners such as state housing finance agencies, and the various types of fair housing organizations, including private fair housing groups, must all be part of the discussion about the research that is needed to support the value of diverse neighborhoods and ways to support their development.
Next Section: Enhance Fair Housing Research at HUD
 Testimony of Margery Austin Turner (Atlanta), at 1. "PD&R’s capacity to design, fund, and conduct high-quality, high-impact studies has substantially deteriorated in recent years, due to weak leadership, insufficient funding, staff retirements, and an increasingly narrow and constrained research agenda. This deterioration and its consequences for future housing and urban development policy are documented in a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences, along with specific recommendations for rebuilding HUD’s research capacity. The next administration at HUD should implement these recommendations."
 Id. at 3-4.
 Testimony of Ginny Hamilton (Boston), at 2; "Data Collection for Government Assisted Housing in Massachusetts Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2006" (Boston Exhibit).
 Testimony of Keenya Robertson (Atlanta), at 4.
 Testimony of Ginny Hamilton (Boston), at 2.
 Id. at 2.
 Testimony of John Brittain (Boston), at 9.
 Funding was diverted from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program to support the Housing Discrimination Studies in the early 2000s. The significance of this research work is high, but it does not justify taking funds away from key program that supports fair housing enforcement and education. Testimony of Cathy Cloud (Boston), at 4-5.