Contributor Post Created with Sketch. HUD Makes a Further Mess Out of Housing

 

shutterstock_170154509Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released its final rule on “affirmatively furthering fair housing,” a regulation intended in part to advance HUD’s goal of making sure that government agencies that receive public funds take “meaningful actions” to eliminate “historic patterns of segregation, achieve truly balanced and integrated living patterns, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination.” As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas, the result is a mess:

The tedious Final Rule, which has been hailed as “historic and overdue,” is an intellectual shipwreck. Its empty and vacuous commands are incapable of rational implementation. Yet notwithstanding HUD’s pious denials, the department is sure to continue its history of contentious litigation brought to chastise and correct local governments whose actions have not met its standard. One inherent difficulty in both the previous and current versions of the Final Rule is that its objectives are often in deep conflict with one anther.

HUD gives backhanded recognition to this point when it notes: “The Fair Housing Act does not prohibit individuals from choosing where they wish to live, but it does prohibit policies and actions by covered entities and individuals that deny choice or access to housing or opportunity through the segregation of persons protected by the Fair Housing Act.” But it does not grasp the magnitude of this concession. It turns out, of course, that most individuals do not wish to live in communities that meet HUD’s sterile definitions of “truly balanced and integrated communities.” They often prefer to live with individuals with whom they share common values in neighborhoods that offer the social support and companionship that they so clearly want.

It is not that everyone wants to live in racially homogenous communities. Quite the opposite. Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor offer substantial evidence that racial separation has declined over the past 50 years, largely if not wholly apart from HUD’s affirmative action interventions. HUD offers no evidence of the potency of its affirmative action program in its Final Rule. But so long as some preferences for living with like individuals persist, there is little doubt that people will tend to cluster in communities with people of the same race, ethnicity or economic class, which tends to facilitate the kinds of interactions that they want. It is still important to recall Thomas Schelling’s seminal 1969 study, “Models of Segregation,” which shows how extensive racial separation can take place even when most people of both racial groups prefer to live in neighborhoods which are integrated, but in which they prefer to constitute a majority.

HUD is willfully blind to these complications. No matter how many terminological changes HUD makes in its report, it does not deal candidly with the serious risk that voluntary choices by ordinary individuals will undo the scripted program that HUD wants to impose on neighborhoods and communities. Indeed, even if by some magic stroke, the construction of new projects could result in “truly balanced and integrated living patterns” at time one, it is highly unlikely that those patterns will persist as individual choices will continue to undermine HUD’s desired end-state regimes.

HUD is unable to explain how the huge conditions attached to its grants will build a single unit of new housing for anyone anywhere. What is needed is a complete reorientation in approach that starts from the proposition that it is far easier and more sensible to remove barriers to entry than it is to subsidize forced entry by judicial decree once those local barriers are allowed to remain in place. 

You can read the argument in full here.

There are 12 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    The intellectual morass is no accident. Shoddy law is rewarded with constructive interpretation so that soundbites gain the force of law.

    This (AFFH) is going to be “a big F’n deal”.

    • #1
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:04 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. carcat74 Member

    Doesn’t this remind anyone of another shoddily written law, one that lent itself to all kinds of pretzel-logic twisting interpretations?

    • #2
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    carcat74:Doesn’t this remind anyone of another shoddily written law, one that lent itself to all kinds of pretzel-logic twisting interpretations?

    Right on, right on.

    • #3
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:11 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard,

    I want you to grasp just how crazy it is already. Here is the scenario.

    Black couple walks into a real estate office. Without any prompting they ask to be shown at least 3 houses in neighborhood X. The realtor simply complies with the wishes of client and shows the clients 3 houses in neighborhood X. Neighborhood X is 90% Black.

    The realtor is now guilty of an ethics violation. The realtor is judged to be steering the client. The fact that the request came completely from the clients and the realtor might also be Black has absolutely nothing to do with it. The realtor is guilty of steering and can lose their license over this.

    Obviously, this level of total insanity which has been the law for decades isn’t insane enough. HUD’s Realtors in Wonderland can only get curiouser and curiouser.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:22 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    Not long ago, Stanley Kurtz wrote a good book on this.

    • #5
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Old Bathos Moderator

    The ambiguity in draftsmanship is a feature not a bug.

    An express requirement of racial quotas generated on the fly by partisan bureaucrats and their allies is not legally sustainable.

    A fog of language in which the targeted developers and local governments can be brought to heel by creative litigation with uncertain outcomes is the exact goal of the rulemaking.

    Clarity is an archaic habit for suckers.

    • #6
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:53 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. Lily Bart Inactive

    This needs to be killed. Do you think any of our ‘representatives’ are interested in pushing back? Because we’re not getting much ‘representation’ from them these days.

    Also, we could also really foul this up with the census – self-identify as minority on the next form!

    • #7
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Old Bathos:The ambiguity in draftsmanship is a feature not a bug.

    An express requirement of racial quotas generated on the fly by partisan bureaucrats and their allies is not legally sustainable.

    A fog of language in which the targeted developers and local governments can be brought to heel by creative litigation with uncertain outcomes is the exact goal of the rulemaking.

    Clarity is an archaic habit for suckers.

    OB,

    Obviously, you are an experienced hand here in the 21st century. All of this follows if you just start thinking of government as your own personal profit center and the public good as a myth to be debunked. Now that’s progressivism down to its roots.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #8
    • July 14, 2015, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Lily Bart Inactive

     …..most individuals do not wish to live in communities that meet HUD’s sterile definitions of “truly balanced and integrated communities.”

    This is true. and Human nature – nothing to do with racism

    • #9
    • July 14, 2015, at 11:06 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    And the black Americans will be told by their Establishment that they may no longer live near their families and friends. They will be made to move into neighborhoods where they know no one. Is this progress? I wonder if this will lead to any estrangement of the black community from the Democrat party who they have supported for half a century.

    • #10
    • July 14, 2015, at 12:12 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. tigerlily Member

    The worse part about this to me is that no congressman, no senator voted for this because that would require accountability to the voters and so would stand no chance of passage. The administrative, regulatory state and constitutionally limited government cannot co-exist.

    • #11
    • July 14, 2015, at 1:31 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Mister Dog Coolidge

    Also, we could also really foul this up with the census – self-identify as minority on the next form!

    I identified everyone in my family as “American” on the last census.

    • #12
    • July 16, 2015, at 9:43 PM PDT
    • Like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.