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PRRAC Update April 28, 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.

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Congress and the Administration are moving closer to acting on the reauthorization and amendment of the primary federal education statute, the ESEA. The ESEA articulates a number of important education policies including requirements for state accountability systems in Title I and choice programs in Title V (the Magnet Schools Assistance Program, the Voluntary School Choice Program, and the federal Charter Schools program). PRRAC has been working closely with a large coalition of civil rights groups, and with the National Coalition on School Diversity, to press for preservation of meaningful accountability standards and stronger incentives for school diversity in the statute.

Encouraging healthy outcomes in the HUD Section 8 Voucher Program

PRRAC's new Policy Brief, "Two Simple Changes to Improve Health Outcomes in the Section 8 Voucher Program," explores changes that HUD could make through regulations or regulatory guidance to incorporate public health goals into the Section 8 voucher assessment process, and the Section 8 "Housing Quality Standards" system for inspecting units for suitability for families with children.

Other news and resources

HUD Issues Invitation for PHAs to Participate in Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration: As reported in recent PRRAC updates, HUD has been slow to issue some key civil rights related regulations and regulatory guidance. But we were pleased to see one of the most important programs announced just last week in the Federal Register - the final announcement and invitation for the "Small Area FMR Demonstration," which will test the use of varying Section 8 voucher rents in at least five metropolitan areas to give low income families a greater choice of neighborhoods and communities in which to live. Although the final announcement was weakened by a provision allowing exclusionary towns to opt out of the enhanced rent structure, this demonstration could be the beginning of a series of important reforms to the voucher program, and it is crucial that advocates and Public Housing Agencies work together to help make this program a success. See invitation for PHAs to participate.

Additional perspective on the 2010 Census from Remapping Debate: "In the wake of Census 2010, media attention has focused on the slow trend towards less segregation for African-Americans that has continued in the last 10 years. But demographic experts agree that segregation in the United States is still alive and well. And Remapping Debate's new maps provide vivid proof that a substantial increase in diversity in the nation overall is not mirrored by the demographics of the segregated neighborhoods in which most Americans live."

Conferences

National Fair Housing Alliance 20th Annual National Conference: June 5-7, Washington, DC. The 2011 National Fair Housing Alliance Conference, "Fair Housing in a Changing Marketplace," will bring together local and national civil rights advocates, private attorneys, and leadership and staff from federal agencies engaged in enforcing fair housing and fair lending laws. Advocates will gain a new perspective on current efforts to expand fair housing choice - through private litigation and efforts to affirmatively further fair housing in HUD programs. For more information, go to www.nationalfairhousing.org.

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty's National Forum on the Human Right to Housing: June 7-8, Washington, DC. Workshops will range from new policy initiatives to basic instruction on human rights and housing to lobbying techniques and the use of social media. The Forum will conclude with a Congressional briefing on the right to housing, and an opportunity for advocates to meet with their representatives to put into action the skills and knowledge they have gained. For more information, go to http://nlchp.org/2011Forum.cfm.

The Fifth National Conference on Assisted Housing Mobility, originally planned for the summer of 2011, has been postponed to await the release of the final study results from HUD's Moving to Opportunity Demonstration. Check the PRRAC website in September for an update on conference plans (for details about last year's conference, click here).

Philip Tegeler
Saba Bireda
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Washington, DC


(to review past PRRAC updates, click here)
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