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PRRAC Update April 14, 2011

Welcome to the PRRAC Update! Every other Thursday, PRRAC sends out a brief 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 join the PRRAC email list, click here.

Finally a federal budget, but more progress needed on fair housing

Now that the government shutdown has been averted, and the 2011 budget is almost* in place, it is time for HUD to move more aggressively to roll out a number of delayed regulatory reforms. Some of the most important of these are in the Section 8 voucher program, our largest low income housing program. Most importantly, the "Small Area FMR Demonstration," announced in May 2010 but still not implemented, would begin to reform the current system of setting voucher rents, which continues to steer low income families into lower income, segregated neighborhoods, and contributes to school segregation. Likewise, long awaited reforms in the "Section 8 Management Assessment Program" could increase incentives for Public Housing Agencies to help families move to low poverty areas, and anticipated new rules on "voucher portability" could streamline an arcane system that puts roadblocks in the path of families who want to move out of their "jurisdiction" (see new report below). Another important civil rights reform - HUD's "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" rule - which would set clearer fair housing goals and guidelines for states, cities, and counties receiving HUD funds, has been on the drawing board since the summer of 2009.
* there is still time (today) to contact Congress to oppose severe cuts in the 2011 HUD budget - click here for more information.

Other News and Resources

Increasing poverty and inequality in the 2012 House budget proposal - Statement of Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "Chairman Ryan's sweeping budget plan has been labeled 'courageous,' but it's a cowardly budget in a crucial respect. It proposes a dramatic reverse-Robin-Hood approach that gets the lion's share of its budget cuts from programs for low-income Americans - the politically and economically weakest group in America and the politically safest group for Ryan to target - even as it bestows extremely large tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. Taken together, its proposals would produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, while increasing poverty and inequality more than any measure in recent times and possibly in the nation's history." Read more.

Federal Policy Briefing: "Informing the Debate - Bringing Civil Rights Research to Bear on the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act," presented by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Thursday, April 21, 2011, 10:00 am - 12:00 am, Rm. 209, Senate Visitors Center (north side-Capitol Visitors Center) Read more.

Moving or Moving Up? Understanding Residential Mobility for Housing Choice Voucher Families in Illinois (published by Housing Action Illinois, Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, April 2011) Read full report here.

Philip Tegeler

Saba Bireda

Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Washington, DC

(to review past PRRAC updates, click here)

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