chapter  16
18 Pages

Integration: Solving the Wrong Problem

If we want to use housing assistance to signifi cantly expand opportunity, we should directly target communities with high-performing schools, not rely on poverty rate, let alone a point-in-time rate, as a proxy measure. Since high-performing school districts or school communities are oft en primarily white, this targeting strategy means directly confronting exclusion and discrimination in the siting of aff ordable housing and the placement of families that use rental housing vouchers or other assistance. (Ferryman et al. 2008)

Passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act came swift ly following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most agree that at the time it was the right thing to do, but also that the Act passed without fi rst reaching fi rm consensus on the goal it was to achieve. While the law clearly aimed to end overt discrimination against blacks and other “minority” groups in the purchase and rental of housing, it did not specify the broader goal of ending segregation or even promoting integration. Moreover, as this chapter discusses, it was not intended to address poverty, but rather to create open housing. However,

over the years, and more recently, integration strategies have been employed to improve the education and economic status of poor people primarily of color, on the premise that it will also move people out of poverty. Th is includes strategies to end housing discrimination and to proactively open up white and usually middle-class communities to people of color via mobility programs. While research supports this approach to helping poor people, it also reveals how these strategies have not reduced the institutional racism that plagued our country four decades ago continues now to produce and sustain poverty ghettos.