I tend to be constantly immersed in the news, but I would have to admit that this is one news story that completely got by me. The fact that the Supreme Court was going to hear a case concerning Fair Housing yet again. Most people know it as the Fair Housing Act of 1968 signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson which stopped, federally at least, the discrimination of people of color in this country after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and 1965 Voting Rights Act. the goal of the law was to stop discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also gave the Department of Housing and Urban Development the tools needed to remedy years of discrimination and enforce the law (The Atlantic: U.S. Supreme Court considers the case of Inclusive housing.)
What the court is looking to do is figure out how much of that law it will do away with, leaving Housing advocates dumbfounded as to why they would even agree to hear this case at this time. The case has come back this time when the Inclusive Communities Project, which is a Dallas nonprofit that tries to promote racial and socioeconomic integration, brought a suit against the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs in 2008 over the way the department allocated housing tax credits (The Atlantic: U.S. Supreme Court considers the case of Inclusive housing.)
The Inclusive Communities project argued that the way Dallas distributed it’s points between 1995 to 2009 led minorities to be segregated out into poor areas of dallas (The Atlantic: U.S. Supreme Court considers the case of Inclusive housing.) But hasn’t that always been the case in poor areas in this country? The ghettoization of black and brown people has always been accomplished by where one lived and/or was segregated out in society. Years of disinvestment in housing and Urban Development especially in the south has lended itself to the “otherside of the tracks living.” Racial disparities has also pushed people to the margins and caused ghetto living as we know and see it today. Low opportunities for education, career advancement, and low salaries have all worked in harmony to depress communities of color and we must be on watch to push back against these factors as they continue to push against us in our community. While one could argue that Texas was not trying to discriminate against low income families, one could certainly say that the state’s practices and policies certainly had a disparate impact on minorities pushing them into high blocks of low income housing.
What is so important not to miss here is the fact that housing has always been one of the great stabilizers in the black community. It has always been one of the very places that wealth has started among people of color. It’s homes where people gather in kitchens to make decisions, where families celebrate milestones, and the issues of the community are talked over. When you think about it housing is really a big deal among communities of all stripes, but especially in black and brown communities. One could really look at this from the perspective of being as big as the section 4b/5 VRA ruling. Disparate Impact is such a valuable tool and so important to the entire law. It keeps landlord’s from being able to say they will only rent to white citizens, and it keeps banks from denying loans to people of color among other things. This is one of the biggest Civil Rights discussions, and the supreme court is poised to strike down yet another protection. Housing discrimination is one of the most important issues of our time because it can be done so easily and look like something else. We must stay on the wall and keep fighting.