First announced in March 2018, the Where We Live NYC initiative has finally released a draft plan for public review. Described as a “comprehensive fair housing planning process to study, understand, and address patterns of residential segregation,” the report outlines key goals and strategies to eliminate discrimination in the housing market. As part of the plan, the city will launch the Fair Housing Litigation Unit “comprised of researchers, lawyers, and market testers who will go into the community as ‘secret shoppers’ and identify discriminatory practices,” per a recent press release.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Trump administration proposed plans to ease housing regulations established under the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required local governments to evaluate poverty and segregation in order to receive federal funding for housing and infrastructure projects. As the Wall Street Journal reports, under the new rule the Department of Housing and Urban Development will require “minimal documentation from local governments about how they are promoting desegregation.”
“HUD’s commitment to fair housing remains as steadfast as ever before,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Mayors know their communities best, so we are empowering them to make housing decisions that meet their unique needs, not a mandate from the federal government.”
“As the Trump administration rolls back protections against housing discrimination, we are stepping up to ensure that the doors of opportunity are open to every New Yorker and those who discriminate are held accountable,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement announcing the release of Where We Live NYC. “Across the country, Americans are living with the legacy of segregation. In New York City, we’re charting a path forward to continue to make New York the fairest big city in America.”
“Where We Live addresses the real challenges NYCHA and Section 8 residents face in gaining access to housing and opportunity. The issues that contribute to housing discrimination and segregation are systemic and impact the lives of countless New Yorkers. To tackle them, we need to enlist more community partners; continue leveraging the impact of NYCHA programs like PACT and REES; and expand funding to strengthen enforcement of NYC’s Fair Housing laws that protect the rights of many low- and moderate-income New Yorkers,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Gregory Russ.
During the two-year planning process for the plan, the city has sought a collaborative effort to better understand the challenges faced. As part of that, the city has hosted 62 focus-group-style conversations (in 15 languages) and also held a “Where We Live Summit” in June at the Museum of the City of New York. The city plans to continue their “listening tour” to further review the draft and refine the final plan.
Two opportunities to sound off on the plan are coming up. First, a reception at the Abrons Art Center in Manhattan on January 8th where “participants can meet with City representatives to ask questions, share feedback, and experience an interactive Where We Live NYC exhibit.” And a public hearing that will be held on February 6th from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the City Planning Commission Hearing Room at 120 Broadway.
For more information on the draft and process, visit the Where We Live NYC website.
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