This letter to the editor appeared in the New York Times on July 24, 2015.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s long-awaited empowerment of state and local governments to make real efforts to end housing segregation is welcome and necessary (“The End of Federally Financed Ghettos,” editorial, July 12). But your editorial unfairly blames nonprofit housing developers for housing segregation.
Neighborhoods of concentrated poverty arose from decades of development shaped by government policies. Fair housing law responds by ensuring that all Americans have equal access to housing and opportunities that lead to a fruitful life. Nonprofit developers work to improve housing in distressed communities and make affordable housing available in better-resourced places. But their efforts are small compared with the housing created privately and regulated locally.
America should be a country where every place has good schools, ample job opportunities and quality rental and homeownership opportunities affordable to a wide range of people. Ensuring availability of affordable housing in areas of opportunity is a necessary step. Creating better housing, jobs and services in distressed communities is another. We can — and must — do both.