“Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, showed utter contempt for his agency’s core mission last month when he proposed deleting the phrase ‘free from discrimination’ from the HUD mission statement. Yet Mr. Carson is not the first housing secretary to betray the landmark Fair Housing Act of 1968 — which turns 50 years old this week — by failing to enforce policies designed to prevent states and cities from using federal dollars to perpetuate segregation.”
The Trump administration and HUD Secretary Ben Carson are working to push back the positive steps that President Obama’s administration took to affirm fair housing and enforce fair housing law.
“Critics of the Fair Housing Act have glibly attempted to dismiss attempts to end segregation as “social engineering” — as if rigid racial segregation in housing were a natural phenomenon. In fact, the residential segregation that is pervasive in the United States today was partly created by explicit federal policies that date back at least to World War I. It is now widely acknowledged that the federal insistence on segregated housing introduced Jim Crow separation in areas of the country outside the South where it had previously been unknown. It stands to reason that dismantling a system created by a set of government policies will require an equally explicit set of federal policies.”
“The scholar Richard Rothstein exposed the roots of this shameful process in his recent book ‘The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.’ He reported that the government’s first effort to build housing for defense workers near military installations and factories during World War I was founded on the premise that African-American families would be excluded “even from projects in northern and western industrial centers where they worked in significant numbers.”
The editorial reminds us that Fair Housing Act of 1968 “Which was intended to break down the walls around the country’s ghettos so that at least some people could forge successful lives elsewhere. If the country keeps betraying this landmark law, it will continue to squander a powerful tool for reducing lethal concentrations of poverty and for opening the door to upward mobility for the poor.