HUD announces Small Area FMR proposal for highly concentrated metro areas: In another important fair housing move by Secretary Castro, this proposed HUD rule is intended to expand housing opportunities in metropolitan areas with high concentrations of vouchers in poor neighborhoods, by calculating maximum voucher rents based not on a region wide percentile, but rather on rent levels in each zip code, permitting greater access to higher rent areas for low income families, and reducing over payments and incentives to rent in the poorest neighborhoods. The proposed rule would allow any public housing agency to switch to the new way of calculating rents, but would also apply regional SAMFRs mandatorily in the most concentrated regions. We are in the process of analyzing the formula that designates mandatory SAFMR regions, to ensure that it extends to the most highly segregated metropolitan areas, where families have the most urgent need for housing choice, and to assess if the formula is adequate in the highest cost cities. The Small Area FMR approach has been one of our highest regulatory priorities since the beginning of the Obama Administration, and we want to see it be as successful as possible.
Fisher v. Texas: In a resounding victory for racial diversity in higher education, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas’ admissions policy in its second trip to the court. The 4-3 decision, written by Justice Kennedy, is consistent with the Court’s endorsement of school diversity as a compelling government interest in K-12 education, first announced in the Parents Involved case in 2007, and follows the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case by approving the University of Texas’ use of a student’s race as one of several factors in admissions for a portion of each entering class.
The Fisher case is somewhat unique, in that separate from the challenged “holistic” admissions practice, 75% of each entering class at the University is prescribed by the state’s “Top Ten Percent Plan,” which automatically grants admission to the highest ranking students in each public high school in Texas. Although the “Top Ten Percent Plan” does not select students based on their individual race, the Court acknowledges that the top 10% plan is “race-conscious,” in that it relies on the existing segregation of neighborhoods and school zones to achieve racial diversity in admissions. In this sense, the top 10% plan is consistent with the types of K-12 racial diversity techniques endorsed by five justices of the Court in Parents Involved. For a good initial analysis of the Fisher II decision, see this blog post by University of South Carolina law professor Derek Black.
In the new Poverty & Race: the civil rights backstory of Medicare, by David Barton Smith; innovative intersectional housing advocacy in Corpus Christi, by Joe Rich; lessons from community development history in Philadelphia, by Zane Curtis-Olsen; and the potential of post-industrial cities, by Tracy Neumann – read the new issue here.