February 4, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Caroline Peattie, Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California
(415) 483-7552, email@example.com
On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. Six days later he addressed fair housing in his memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies, making a powerful statement that fair housing and racial equity are central priorities under his administration. This Executive Action clearly acknowledges that “… Federal, State, and local governments systematically implemented racially discriminatory housing policies that contributed to segregated neighborhoods and inhibited equal opportunity and the chance to build wealth” for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), and that those legacies of residential segregation and discrimination remain in existence today – from gaps in homeownership and wealth to environmental inequalities made worse by climate change. The memo outlines multiple ways in which the federal government’s discriminatory policies affected opportunities for safe and affordable housing, jobs, transportation, particularly for Black people. It also addresses the history of the federal government’s disinvestment in communities of color, despite the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
The Executive Order also clearly outlines the return to a strong policy requiring the government and recipients of federal funding to affirmatively further fair housing, requiring actions that go beyond a commitment not to discriminate, but to address historical patterns of segregation and “promote diverse and inclusive communities” by removing barriers to housing opportunities and “and to secure equal access to housing opportunity for all.”
The Executive Order directs HUD to examine the harmful effects of two rules disseminated under Trump’s administration, both of which eviscerated previous Obama-era rules related to disparate impact and affirmatively furthering fair housing. President Biden has clearly indicated that he will fully implement the Fair Housing Act, primarily through restoring the two rules that offered clear guidance on how to apply the Act.
“Never before has an incoming president made fair housing and racial equity such central priorities in his first days in office,” said Caroline Peattie, Executive Director of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California. “Fair housing groups and other civil rights advocates are encouraged by the President’s understanding and acknowledgment that HUD must address racially discriminatory federal housing policies leading to the wealth inequalities we see today, and that they must work with us to remove structural barriers to housing equity. After four long years of struggle against the erosion of civil rights, I, like many of my colleagues, am re-energized by the policies of an administration that will work in tandem with us to implement shared fair housing goals, so everyone in our communities has access to safe, affordable housing and its associated benefits – jobs, transportation, education, and other related opportunities. It is a new and exciting era.”