Fair Housing Act became the law of the land in 1968. Why do patterns of segregation persist to this day?
The 1960s were an era of great struggles but also remarkable progress on civil rights, culminating in the year 1968. On February 29th of that year, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, after studying widespread civil unrest found that, all too often, America consisted of two separate and unequal societies, one for whites and one for Blacks; and such a societal structure was cemented and maintained by where Blacks can and cannot live. In the wake of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and nationwide protests, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which outlawed housing discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status.
A brief period of reform followed. The new Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its secretary, George Romney, was tasked with “affirmatively furthering” fair housing (sound familiar?). The HUD sought to integrate well-resourced, whites-only suburbs and demanded that these areas allow more affordable housing – an effort known as “Open Communities”. Unsurprisingly, the Open Communities initiative was met with fierce local resistance. Romney tried to enforce integration by withholding federal funding from non complying municipalities, but Nixon, afraid of losing suburban white votes, quickly intervened to halt all such efforts.
Had the federal government actually enforced fair housing laws five decades ago, today’s America would be very different. Today, Californians have the opportunity to decide whether or not to enforce our own fair housing law. AB 686 (2018) requires all state and local public agencies to “facilitate deliberate action to explicitly address, combat, and relieve disparities resulting from past patterns of segregation to foster more inclusive communities”. It is up to the Newsom administration and the Department of Housing and Community Development to enforce this law and demand cities create fair housing elements that encourage strong housing growth at all levels of income.
enforce housing element laws
Under California’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment, cities must update the housing element in a way that encourages historically high housing growth, while affirmatively furthering fair housing opportunities and undoing patterns of discrimination in housing. This offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the need for more housing in a way that furthers equity, environmental sustainability, and economic recovery.
Unfortunately, many Southern California cities are submitting housing elements that don’t meet the state’s requirements, and are effectively treating fair housing law as optional. For example, Santa Monica has proposed a housing element that promotes almost all housing growth in formerly redlined areas. South Pasadena and Beverly Hills are proposing housing on sites where it’s very unlikely to be built, such as city halls, vacant parcels of railroad track, and historic theaters. These cities are using bad-faith tactics to superficially comply with the law, while avoiding rezoning exclusive areas to allow more housing.
In a worrisome development, HCD recently certified San Diego’s housing element, which was full of bad-faith tactics. We need to be clear and loud about our demand for fair and abundant housing. This week, join us in telling HCD and Governor Newsom to enforce housing element laws and hold cities to high standards!
Monrovia Housing and Tenant Advocates Meeting
Mon 10/4 | 7:30 – 9:00pm
West Hollywood Housing Element Advocates Meeting
Wed 10/6 | 6 – 7pm
Culver City For More Homes Members Meeting
Tue 10/5 | 6 – 7pm
Friends Of The Purple Line Meeting
Fri 10/8 | 5 – 6pm
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org” style=”text-decoration: underline; color: #228ae6;” rel=”noopener”>Jaime Del Rio to attend local meetings.
October 16 | Funny Neighbors: A Comedy Fundraiser for Housing
Limited spots available. RSVP today!
Fundraiser will have complimentary food + drinks. Reception starts at 5 pm, you must rsvp to receive address. Mask required, proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hrs required. Tickets start at $50 for members using membership email + discount code “Member”, $35 for students with school email + discount code “Student”. Become a member here.
October 14 | Lunch and Learn: State Legislation Q&A
Members + volunteers only.
Confused About What The LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Does? We Have Answers.
LAHSA, short for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, is the regional planning body that coordinates housing and services for unhoused people in Los Angeles County. LAHSA administers services and policies to shape best practices in getting people experiencing homelessness into housing. There have been recent calls from elected officials to overhaul or completely eliminate LAHSA, so we’re breaking down what the agency does and who it serves.
Expensive housing is the reason the planet is burning, the rich are getting richer, and women are choosing to have fewer children
Falling birth rates. Widening inequality. The climate crisis. They have an unlikely common denominator in the housing market.
Home prices have rocketed higher at record pace for three straight months. Americans’ views of buying conditions are the worst since 1982. And supply remains grossly insufficient after decades of underbuilding.
Show your support for ending exclusionary zoning with a yard sign!
And check out our brand new CafePress store with merch for everyone.
Abundant Housing LA
515 S Flower St. Floor 18
Los Angeles, CA, 90071
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