(CNSNews.com) - To ensure that "every American is able to choose to live in a community they feel proud of," HUD has published a new fair-housing regulation intended to give people access to better neighborhoods than the ones they currently live in.
The goal is to help communities understand "fair housing barriers" and "establish clear goals" for "improving integrated living patterns and overcoming historic patterns of segregation."
“This proposed rule represents a 21st century approach to fair housing, a step forward to ensuring that every American is able to choose to live in a community they feel proud of – where they have a fair shot at reaching their full potential in life,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.
“For the first time ever," Donovan added, "HUD will provide data for every neighborhood in the country, detailing the access African American, Latino, Asian, and other communities have to local assets, including schools, jobs, transportation, and other important neighborhood resources that can play a role in helping people move into the middle class."
According to HUD, long-term solutions include "helping people gain access to different neighborhoods and channeling investments into under-served areas." The mapping tool may guide development and zoning decisions, for example.
In a July 16 speech to the NAACP, Donovan said the American Dream still isn't within equal reach of all communities. He lamented the lack of diversity in America's boardrooms, schools, and the nation's "strongest neighborhoods."
"We have got to shape a future where ladders of opportunity are available for all Americans," Donovan said. "For African Americans, this is critically important. Historically, for this community, the rungs on these ladders have been too far apart -– making it harder to reach the middle class."
Donovan said HUD's new neighborhood mapping tool, which uses Census data, will "expand access to high opportunity neighborhoods and draw attention to investment possibilities in under-served communities."
"Make no mistake, this is a big deal," Donovan said. "With the HUD budget alone, we are talking about billions of dollars. And as you know, decades ago, these funds were used to support discrimination. Now, they will be used to expand opportunity and bring communities closer to the American Dream."
Under the Fair Housing Act, HUD requires grantees, such as cities, that receive federal housing funds to "affirmatively further fair housing."
Under the proposed rule, the neighborhood data provided by HUD will be used to evaluate patterns of integration and segregation, racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty, and access to "valuable community assets." HUD wants to know if existing laws and policies -- such as zoning, financing, infrastructure planning and transportation -- create, perpetuate or alleviate segregation.
The proposed rule explicitly incorporates fair-housing decision-making into existing planning processes and "other decision-making that influences how communities and regions grow and develop."
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