PRRAC Poverty & Race Research Action Council
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Fair Housing and Community Development

Since 1968, the fair housing and community development fields have pursued a variety of approaches and strategies to create greater opportunity for lower-income communities and communities of color. Yet segregated housing patterns continue to be the norm across the country, shutting these communities out of high opportunity areas. To achieve the outcomes of reducing racial and economic segregation and de-concentration of poverty, the community development and fair housing sectors must come together to support a shared vision, common indicators of success, and new policy innovations. PRRAC is engaged in several related projects that seek to achieve this resolution.

Policy Tools for Reconciling Fair Housing and Community Development Goals

For years policymakers have been debating the proper mix between affordable housing investment in high poverty neighborhoods and expanded housing opportunities for low income families of color in low poverty, predominantly white communities. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has made the Obama Administration’s position clear on this “debate” from the outset – that HUD must “do both”: place-based community investment and expansion of fair housing opportunities outside racially concentrated areas of poverty.

Housing Opportunity, Community Development, and Civil Rights: Toward a Shared Vision

PRRAC is working with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Enterprise Community Partners on an ongoing project of dialogue and consensus-building with low income housing developers and community development practitioners, supported by the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations. Our goals are to explore barriers and incentives to expanding locational choices for low income families, and new approaches to comprehensive community development in distressed and gentrifying communities, consistent with fair housing goals. Presentations and research from our most recent national meeting (November 2012), is collected here, and presentations from our most recent regional meeting (September 2013) is collected here.

Inclusive Gentrification? Strategies for Diverse and Stable Urban Neighborhoods

Can gentrification be managed to protect and benefit existing residents of changing neighborhoods? The project looks at different methods for promoting equity by examining case studies from across the nation. Read more here

Public Housing Redevelopment

Balancing fair housing and the right to return in public housing redevelopment: The important civil rights issues surrounding the HOPE VI program – including the right to return to the redeveloped site, the impacts of relocation on nearby neighborhoods, and the right to expanded housing opportunities throughout the region – cannot be considered without an understanding of the historical use of public housing as a policy to segregate and contain poor people of color. The history of public housing development, beginning in the era of Jim Crow and continuing through the late 1950s and 60s, must be understood in the context of each city and region where a HOPE VI redevelopment is proposed.

The Obama Administration’s “Choice Neighborhoods” programs addresses two of the key flaws of the HOPE VI program, by guaranteeing one-for-one replacement of hard units in most situations, and guaranteeing former residents the right to occupy a redeveloped or replacement unit. However, the Choice Neighborhoods program continues to fall short in its promise to offer residents strong housing relocation options, or a portion of off site replacement housing in communities of opportunity.


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