Obama moves to impose his vision of how we should live, Part One

As the end of the year approaches, we are waiting for the Obama administration to complete the process by which its rule on “affirmatively furthering fair housing” (AFFH) becomes embedded in the Code of Federal Regulations. In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued its proposed AFFH rule for public comment. The rule was expected to be finalized this month.

The AFFH rule is part of Obama’s attempt to dictate how we shall live. I’ve written about this phenomenon under the label of “regionalism” here (relying on Stanley Kurtz’s book Spreading The Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing The Suburbs To Pay For the Cites) and here and here (relying on the work of Katherine Kersten).

In essence, President Obama seeks to fulfill the left’s longtime dream of redistributing money from the suburbs to the cities and inner-ring suburbs, and imposing racial and income balance in every neighborhood.

Terry Eastland, writing in the Weekly Standard, explains how the new HUD rule would enable the federal government to use its power to create communities of a certain kind, each having what the government deems an appropriate mix of economic, racial, and ethnic diversity:

Grantees​—​the states, localities, and public housing authorities—​are required to improve choice, through “planning, strategies, and actions.” And HUD promises to help by providing data on “patterns of integration and segregation; racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty; [and] access to education, employment, .  .  . transportation, and environmental health, among other critical assets.”

From the data, statistically expressed in terms of race and other protected classes, grantees are directed to identify “fair housing issues” in their communities. “Fair housing issue” is a technical term for a segregated living pattern, a racial concentration of poverty, or disparate access to some community asset. Grantees are to determine what accounts for the “fair housing issues” they have identified as they prepare, under a process involving community participation, an “assessment of fair housing” (AFH).

And that’s what they are to submit to HUD for approval. The AFH is to include goals that “will inform housing and community development policy and investment planning.” The proposed rule gives as an example of such a goal “promoting greater mobility and access to areas offering vital assets such as quality schools, employment, and transportation.” A program participant whose AFH is not approved could lose its federal housing dollars. In other words, you satisfy HUD, or you do without your grants.

By requiring the use of statistical analysis to infer the existence of “unfair housing,” HUD is imposing on states and localities its view that unfair housing means much more than discriminatory housing, a view that the Obama administration has turned summersaults to insulate from Supreme Court review. For HUD and for those who accept its money, unfair housing encompasses any race-neutral policy that has the “effect” of creating “disparate access” for minorities to good jobs, schools and other suburban “assets.”

And there’s more:

The rule states that “tenant selection and assignment policies should be designed to reduce racial and national origin concentrations, including racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, and to reduce segregation and promote integration.”

As Eastland reminds us, the Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional race-based public school assignments made in order to achieve or maintain integration. Race-based tenant selection and assignment decisions seem just as constitutionally problematic.

How will HUD’s power grab play out in real life? We can get a glimpse of the dysfunctional future the left has in mind for us by looking at Westchester County’s unfortunate experience with HUD and its vision of how we shall live. This will be the subject of an upcoming post.

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