“In his acclaimed book The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein details the litany of discriminatory federal and state laws and policies put into place throughout the 20th century to build the nation’s segregated public housing projects. FDR’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mandated racial separation in housing, denying mortgages to qualifying African-Americans and precluding blacks from the promise of suburban homeownership. Government programs such as the “Own Your Own Home” campaign sought to promote homeownership, but only for white families.”
New Jersey is and remains a state with segregated communities and schools. This is the case even with the legal mandate for cities and towns to create housing that provides equal opportunity.
“New Jersey remains highly segregated in housing, education, income, wealth and incarceration rates. In so many ways, where we live determines how we live. It forecasts our income, wealth, education, health, social capital and political efficacy.
In 1975, the Supreme Court of New Jersey took a pioneering step toward the promise of inclusion with its unanimous Mt. Laurel ruling. There the court held that the state constitution requires that every developing township provide its fair share of the overall regional need for low and moderate-income housing. That constitutional mandate to assure inclusionary housing opportunities was met with fierce resistance, delay and studied inaction.”
The May 16 Color of Law Public Policy Forum will provide the opportunity to further explore and discuss what we can all do to ensure that Opportunity Begins at Home for every individual and family in New Jersey.
“The promise of inclusion can be achieved. We can and must summon a collective recognition that what we do for others, we do for ourselves.”