Biden to address racial gap, environmental justice in housing

President’s orders, appointments point to wider strategy

National /
Jan.January 28, 2021 02:30 PM
President Joe Biden (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s housing plan is coming into focus.

The newly inaugurated Biden’s executive order Tuesday reinstating a Fair Housing rule was just the first step in a broader agenda for racial and environmental justice in housing.

“Housing is a right in America, and home ownership is an essential tool to wealth creation and to be passed down to generations,” the president said as he signed the order.

And he has bigger plans. In addition to reversing Trump-era changes, the president has vowed to address the racial gap in home ownership and homelessness, tackle environmental justice and reduce restrictions on housing production, according to Bloomberg.

Whether he will succeed is another story: Decades’ worth of government-sanctioned segregation, coupled with gridlock in the Senate, mean addressing the nation’s housing problems is not a simple process.

Still, Biden’s appointments showcase his priorities, Bloomberg reported.

Sasha Samberg-Champion, the deputy general counsel for enforcement for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s office of general counsel, represented the National Fair Housing Alliance in a case against HUD in 2018 over the agency’s failure to enforce the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing mandate.

“HUD is taking the ‘fair housing’ out of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” Samberg-Champion told Bloomberg last year.

The Biden administration has also selected Jenn Jones to serve as HUD’s chief of staff. Jones was a former policy lead at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a fair-lending nonprofit.

Onlookers are watching as more appointments and plans are released, aware of the challenges ahead.

“There’s no panacea, particularly for the people in the places that remain underinvested,” Maurice Jones of the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation told Bloomberg.

“Housing is at the center of a lot of important things in the country. We now have a chance to take a look at HUD to bring in the talent, the tools, and the policies to do the things that are relevant to this time right now.”

[Bloomberg] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan


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