According to David Cruz of NJTV News, “…participants in Wednesday’s “Color of Law” forum laid out the case for a willful government philosophy of separation by race, begun in the 1930s during the Roosevelt administration and then carried on after World War II.”
Rothstein recounted how “…this very same public housing, once reserved for whites, became increasingly black as whites began to relocate to suburbs, following the jobs. Again, not by accident, but by government policy, which helped to encourage developers — think Levittown in New York — who met specific criteria, including “an explicit commitment never to sell a home to an African-American. And with that commitment, the federal government would guarantee, ensure, their bank loans so that banks would lend them the money to build the development,” explained Rothstein.
“The Federal Housing Administration even required that developers like Levitt, or any of the other developers, include in the deed of every home in these developments a clause prohibiting resale to African-Americans or rental to African-Americans.”
Cruz also commented on other speakers at the Forum, including April DeSimone. He continues, “The “risk of infiltration by incompatible racial elements” was a guiding legal principle that carried on well into the 1970s, an institutional racism that explains why projects in urban areas became blacker and projects in suburbia became whiter. Even in cities, redlining by insurers and lenders guaranteed continued separation, as detailed in the exhibit “Undesign the Redline” from April DeSimone.”
NJ Spotlight reported on the forum as well, delving into the solutions that speakers such as Paula Franzese offered when she suggested, “Show up at your town council meetings and zoning-board meetings where not in my backyard is alive and well.” Rothstein also claimed, “’So long as we believe this happened by accident, there is no way government will enact policies to uncreate it, to integrate the country. We need to begin to have conversations leading to aggressive policy steps to begin desegregating the country.’”
He offered solutions such as eliminating exclusionary zoning laws, taking the money saved from mortgage-interest tax deductions of those in segregated communities and holding them in escrow until desegregation, and increasing the value of section 8 housing vouchers.
This Public Policy Forum is part of a series providing opportunities to engage advocates and community, faith-based and civic leaders in solutions to affordable housing issues in NJ. It follows on the success of the October 2017 forum focused on the issue of Eviction.