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PRRAC update January 6, 2011

Welcome to the inaugural PRRAC Update! Every other Thursday, PRRAC will provide a digest of news, recent publications, and other points of interest related to our work in housing, education, and health. We welcome feedback and encourage you to forward to others. To subscribe to the PRRAC Update and mailing list, click here.

School diversity is now a Department of Education funding priority

Before the holidays, the U.S. Department of Education published its final list of "Supplemental Priorities" for judging future competitive funding grants (such as Race to the Top, Charter Schools, etc). There were a number of positive new elements that states and local districts will now have an incentive to include in their grant applications (it's worth reading the whole list) but we wanted to highlight especially the new priority on "Promoting Diversity" - which encourages the Department to prioritize "[P]rojects that are designed to promote student diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, or avoid racial isolation." To our knowledge, this is the first time that the Department has included school diversity as a competitive funding priority (although the Department has often pursued enforcement actions against school segregation). This is a good first step, but we will need to continue to remind the Department to include this priority in all its programs.

For more information on our work with the National Coalition on School Diversity, go to

Waiving HUD regulations doesn't necessarily expand housing choice for public housing residents

A recent HUD report to Congress suggests that public housing agencies granted freedom from most HUD regulations under the "Moving to Work" program have not shown strong results in promoting fair housing choice and geographic mobility for residents. Based on the HUD report, PRRAC is considering a more detailed review of the performance of these PHAs to assess their fair housing performance. See our new policy brief.

Looking ahead: avoiding racial segregation and poverty concentration in the National Housing Trust Fund

The new Housing Trust Fund (HTF) program is the most important housing program to be authorized in the last Congress, and represented a major victory for housing advocates (especially our colleagues at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which shares much of the credit for this victory). Although funds have not yet been appropriated, the Housing Trust Fund has the potential to be the most important source of new and rehabilitated rental units for very low income families in coming years, and now is the time to carefully craft the program's regulations and incentives to improve on past HUD programs. We recently submitted detailed comments on the HTF proposed regulations with other national civil rights groups - we noted that "[a]s with other deeply income-targeted housing assistance programs, [the HTF] also has the potential to exacerbate racial and economic segregation in metropolitan communities and schools. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the program includes strong civil rights requirements in the areas that matter most: site selection, project density, tenant selection and admissions, and affirmative marketing."

Register now for Families USA's Health Action Conference

PRRAC is a cosponsor of Families USA's annual grassroots health advocacy conference, Health Action 2011, which will be held in Washington, DC on January 27-39, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. The conference will include discussion of minority health issues, particularly policy and grassroots efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. Come learn about activities at the national, state, and local level to address health disparities; meet advocates from around the country engaged in this work; and reconnect with colleagues in the field. To register, click here.

Philip Tegeler

Saba Bireda

Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Washington, DC

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