Civil Rights and Fair Housing

The past year has witnessed the most frequent public discussion of segregation and fair housing in decades. In response to the killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri last summer and the subsequent organizing by Black Lives Matter activists nationwide, academics have emphasized how municipal fragmentation, racial residential segregation, and the suburbanization of poverty contributed to a context in Ferguson (and more broadly) characterized by stark racial inequalities in social and political power and access to opportunity. The Supreme Court in June of this year decided a crucial case about the reach of the Fair Housing Act, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project (576 U.S. __ (2015)). Then, in July, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a long-awaited new rule regarding Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing that will provide state and local governments that receive federal housing and community development funds with more rigorous technical guidance, local data on racial disparities in access to opportunity, and a new “assessment tool” intended to support “meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity.” What are the immediate consequences of the Supreme Court decision and the new AFFH rule for municipalities, housing authorities, and residents? What are the consequences for the community development movement? How do these developments affect the balance in planning and community development between place based investments and strategies that support household mobility?

In the decade leading up to the housing crisis, black and Latino borrowers disproportionately received high-cost, high-risk mortgage loans. Although the quantitative evidence consistently demonstrates disparities in loan costs, the specific structural context within which discriminatory lending occurs remains largely unexplored. How did multiple bank and non-bank lenders come to charge black and Latino borrowers more for loans than white borrowers with the same credit scores, income, and other relevant characteristics?