Saturday, August 8, 2015

From 'Diversity Maps' to Forced Integration: Obama's Racist Housing Policy Masks the Real Problem—Lack of Free Markets

In 2013, the Obama Administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) developed a rating system dubbed “diversity maps,” which would grade neighborhoods, towns, and regions according to their racial makeup. The purpose of the program, labeled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,”  was to “allow the feds to track diversity in America’s neighborhoods and then push policies to change those it deems discriminatory.”

In Are "Diversity Maps" a Precursor to Forced Neighborhood Integration?, I argued that the alleged racial discrimination and segregation a statistical analysis of towns and neighborhoods supposedly revealed, real or not, are rooted in rights-violating government policies and institutions—specifically, local zoning powers and the government’s public schools quasi-monopoly. I argued that a free market in housing and education, not more rights-violating, racist-tinged government action designed to correct the problems caused by those previous rights-violating policies, was the right solution.

The diversity maps are now being solidified into policy. True to statist form, the Obama Administration will use the funding and other powers held by HUD to coercively graft racial integration onto neighborhoods across the country. As Rachel Stoltzfoos reports for The DC Caller in Obama Orders Cities And Towns To Racially Integrate:

The Obama administration unveiled new rules Wednesday to rid the country of racially segregated neighborhoods by directing cities and towns to set goals for reducing segregation, and then regularly report their progress to the feds.

Communities nationwide will be given a series of questions designed to help them figure out whether racial bias is causing segregated neighborhoods, racial or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, unequal access to opportunity or disproportionate housing needs in their jurisdiction. They will be required to set goals related to that data and publicly report on their progress every three to five years.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development rule is intended to prod communities to meet fair housing standards established in the Fair Housing Act of 1986, by making previously unavailable or unreliable data accessible to the public, which could then use the data as an impetus for change.

The Fair Housing Act requires the government to not only eliminate racial discrimination in housing, but also to encourage racially integrated neighborhoods.

Obama’s new housing policy shows the danger of categorizing individuals according to their group characteristics—in this case, the color of one’s skin. Obama’s policy is unabashedly, unapologetically racist.

Entire towns and neighborhoods could be judged a product of discrimination merely according to statistics, implicitly and blindly smearing every inhabitant of those failing the test as racist. But I didn’t buy my house in a predominantly white township because of that. I bought my house for rational value reasons, such as because property was more affordable, a desire to live in a more rural area, relatively good schools, larger property. Never did the racial identity of the area’s inhabitants enter into our consideration. We moved into a township that happened to be predominantly white, not because it was predominantly white. Yet, according to HUD’s new rules, I’m essentially branded as a segregationist for my choice!

One wonders, under this drive for coerced racial “diversity,” whether one’s desire to choose a place to live will now be determined by the racial makeup of a particular area. For example, will a buyer will be forbidden from buying or renting a home of his choice based on whether his particular racial quota has been reached in that town? That’s no explicit part of HUD’s rule. But based on the logic of the premise behind “diversity,” and given HUD’s sweeping powers, who can credibly argue that such micromanagement won’t happen eventually? Remember the 1960s forced busing of schoolchildren to distant neighborhoods in the name of integrated schools?

Having said that, HUD’s new racist policies mask a genuine injustice—economic discrimination imposed by local zoning boards. An example of this is the infamous plight of Jacob’s Chapel, an African Methodist Episcopalian congregation in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

In 1970, Jacob’s Chapel sought to build a 36-unit apartment complex designed for low income renters on its land, but Mount Laurel’s zoning ordinance forbade it. In response, Jacob’s invited Mount Laurel’s mayor to discuss a resolution to the impasse with the congregation. But the mayor arrogantly told them, “If you people can’t afford to live in our town, then you’ll just have to leave.” This led to a series of court cases that resulted in the formation of the state Council on Affordable Housing, empowered to force towns to zone for a “fair share” of affordable housing: A statist solution to a statist institution.

The kind of government-enforced economic discrimination that Jacob’s Chapel ran into is the real problem. The problem is not racial discrimination as such. Zoning boards give bigots and other NIMBY interests the power to “segregate” neighborhoods and towns by force. Without such legal powers, builders would be able to build housing based on demand, wherever that demand my surface. The builders would be free to respond to the rational value choices of housing consumers. The racial makeup of towns might still occasionally not meet some bureaucrat's idea of “diversity.” But, given that the distribution of housing would be based on the free market, whatever housing patterns developed would be just and moral because it would be based on the voluntary choices and value judgements of free individuals contracting voluntarily with each other, without any coercive interference from government-empowered social engineers, local, state, or federal.

If HUD were really interested in justice, it would fight to establish race-neutral, individual rights-based housing free markets, not racist, rights-violating forced integration schemes. Let the people, not government bureaucrats, decide.

Related Reading:

Starbucks/USA Today’s Racist “Race Together” Campaign

No comments: