In the new Poverty & Race: Our new issue includes articles by Monique Morris on prison education for Black girls, a progress report on the “Within Our Lifetime” project, and essays (previewed in our last update) by Myron Orfield and Alan Berube on promoting fair housing in diverse suburbs.
HUD policy developments affecting fair housing:
Incentives for higher cost areas in the LIHTC program: HUD is slowly moving away from using metro area average rents to define “Difficult to Develop Areas” for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. This change will create a new incentive for developers to locate affordable housing in lower poverty, higher cost areas. Originally announced in 2011, HUD has now confirmed that it plans to use its new “Small Area FMRs” (average rents defined by zip code, not by region) to identify DDAs eligible for LIHTC “basis boosts” – however, the implementation of this change has been delayed until the announcement of the 2016 DDAs in late 2015. This change should mean that the most expensive areas in each metro area would be identified for more generous low income housing development subsidies (rather than just identifying the most expensive markets in the country). It should also mean that more metro areas will include places that are DDAs eligible for the basis boost. This change is one of a series of reforms that are needed to bring the LIHTC program (administered primarily by the Treasury Department) into alignment with federal fair housing obligations.
PRRAC recommendations echoed in HUD Inspector General Report on MTW: The IG’s recent report on the Moving to Work Demonstration (which gives 39 selected public housing agencies flexibility to waive certain HUD regulatory and budget requirements) found that “HUD had not established programwide performance indicators that would allow it to assess program results” for the three statutory goals of the program – including the goal to “increase housing choices for low-income families.” PRRAC’s 2013 Program Review of the MTW program also focused on the lack of performance standards and called for “guidance that clearly and assertively defines ‘choice’ for all MTW participants and holds them accountable for progress.”
Fair housing documentary: “A Matter of Place,” produced by the Fair Housing Justice Center of New York (and directed by Bill Kavanaugh, who also directed the acclaimed documentary on the Yonkers desegregation case, “Brick by Brick”) is now accessible from the FHJC website. PRRAC Board members Olati Johnson and Betsy Julian are interviewed in the film.
Evaluating impacts of reinvestment in high poverty neighborhoods:
Using an exploratory research approach that tracks outcomes over time across “comparable” neighborhoods, Professor Stefanie Deluca examined the long term impacts of the twenty-year Sandtown-Winchester redevelopment effort in Baltimore, and found smaller impacts than anticipated. In her report for the Abell Foundation, Deluca suggests that the same high standards of research evaluation that have been used to assess housing mobility programs also be applied to housing investment in high poverty neighborhoods: “In the recent past, we have seen a great deal of research attention and scrutiny given to programs that provide poor families with resources to live in less poor neighborhoods. However, despite significant federal and local investments, we rarely see community level or place-based policies held to the same empirical evaluation standards-which prevents us from learning as much as we could from these efforts.”
More resources available at www.prrac.org/resources.php.