Case studies: lessons from other areas to strengthen equity

Interviewees: Miriam Zuk, former Senior Program Director of Enterprise Community Partners and Megan Haberle, former Deputy Director of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)

Business community partners is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to create affordable housing in diverse and prosperous communities through policy changes, technical assistance to communities and funding. PRRAC is a civil rights legal and political organization that promotes research-based advocacy strategies to address structural inequalities and disrupt systems that disadvantage low-income people of color.

  • Federal requirements play a central role in local housing decisions related to equity. Federal program requirements (like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and fair housing regulations to disrupt segregation) guide local decision-making. Some jurisdictions go beyond federal requirements based on local support for fairness (eg Seattle) or lawsuits that require them to do so (eg Maryland). However, most focus on meeting federal requirements, rather than creatively exceeding them. Therefore, federal oversight agencies play a key role in accountability and compliance.
  • Too much attention in the area of ​​affordable housing goes to new development, rather than preservation, even if preservation is more practical, cost effective and realistic. This is consistent with the bias of many transit agencies to spend on costly capital investments (e.g., light rail expansion) rather than maintaining existing service, due to the preponderance of federal funding. eligible for capital projects and short-term political payment for the completion of new transit projects. .
  • Housing is a regional issue which calls for regional solutions. But current law allows local jurisdictions to opt out of participation by granting them autonomy over funding and land use models that determine whether affordable housing is sustainable. Federal funding may incentivize or require (serving as a carrot or a stick) local participation in regional housing programs.
  • In the past, litigation was an effective way to disseminate progressive housing policy by establishing a legal and defensible model in a region that stakeholders elsewhere could replicate.
  • Advocates have deployed economic and social science arguments to gain bipartisan support for housing programs (e.g. how children benefit from housing choice voucher programs, the economic impact of housing programs on the regional economy ).


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