Friday, September 25, 2015

New toolkit spotlights local policies and programs that further fair housing

by Robert Hickey, National Housing Conference 

Fair housing is finally getting the attention it deserves. And not just on HBO. New data last month called attention to the growing challenge of concentrated poverty. Groundbreaking research in May illuminated the importance of neighborhood context for children’s lifetime earnings and the benefits of helping families access good neighborhoods. The Supreme Court’s decision in June affirmed the important principle of disparate impact. And in July, HUD’s new fair housing rule clarified the obligation of local HUD grant recipients to proactively counteract patterns of segregation and connect households of all backgrounds to greater opportunity.

But while there’s growing consensus that we need to do more as a country to address racial and economic segregation and grow more inclusively, it’s been less clear how we do it.

NHC’s new Inclusive Communities Toolkit clarifies the how-to.

Released today, the toolkit outlines various strategies for moving forward at the local level, with examples of actual policy and programs that can help places meet their fair housing obligations, counteract segregation and connect lower-income households and children to neighborhoods with good schools, good job access and healthy living environments.

NHC created this toolkit to meet the growing demand from housing administrators, elected officials, local advocates and others for more accessible information on local housing policies and programs that help make communities more inclusive.

The toolkit collects into one place nearly a decade of research and case studies from NHC’s Center for Housing Policy on tools for preserving and creating racially diverse, mixed-income communities, while also drawing on research and insights from our many partners in the field.  It offers easy ways to connect with peers already doing the work, and various ways to find short case studies of pioneering programs, innovative housing developments and thought-provoking policies.

As the Inclusive Communities Toolkit demonstrates, there is no single solution. The path to greater inclusivity lies in the use of multiple tools and at least two overarching strategies:
  1. Making areas of opportunity more accessible to more types of people; and
  2. Investing in high-poverty neighborhoods while preserving a mix of housing options in these communities.

The Inclusive Communities Toolkit lays out a list of many of the policy and programmatic approaches that are helping communities grow more inclusively, covering:
  • Inclusionary Housing
  • Rental Housing Preservation
  • Public Land
  • Zoning Reforms
  • Voucher Mobility
  • Local Funding. 

Check it out!  And stay tuned as we add other important policy and program approaches to the toolkit over the coming months, including tools for states and local governments.

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