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PRRAC Update May 27, 2011

Welcome to the PRRAC Update! Every other Thursday (or Friday...), 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.

News and resources

We are just back from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's "America Healing" Conference in North Carolina, where PRRAC was represented as one of the Foundation's national anchor organizations for this new racial justice initiative (other national anchor groups include the Applied Research Center, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, and several other important PRRAC partners - see the America Healing website for a full description of this new initiative)

Check out the latest Research Brief from the National Coalition on School Diversity: Magnet School Student Outcomes: What the Research Says, by Genevieve Siegel-Hawley and Erica Frankenberg. This is the sixth in the Coalition's research brief series - see generally www.school-diversity.org.

PRRAC was pleased to partner with Janis Risch of Good Schools-PA/ Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project to present "Integration: The Missing School Reform Strategy" at the Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER) Convening on May 23. We presented research on the benefits of attending integrated schools in the context of First Suburb's regional organizing work. First Suburbs and PRRAC are both member organizations of the Building One America coalition, which advocates for equitable regional approaches to suburban and urban change.

PRRAC also participated in the Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) webinar series on May 26. NFG (nfg.org) is a membership organization of funders interested in supporting social justice work. The May 26 discussion focused on the intersection of housing and education policy and implications for school and neighborhood integration. We were pleased to have PRRAC Board member Damon Hewitt, Myron Orfield, and PRRAC Social Science Advisory Board member Stefanie Deluca participate as panelists during the webinar.

Finally, the May-June issue of Poverty & Race is out - with articles on civil rights history (Atlanta's civil rights movement), the role of teachers' unions in educational reform, creative environmental justice advocacy in Louisiana, and the racial impacts of the unemployment insurance system. Click here for a pdf (or subscribe here if you're not on our mailing list)

In other news

HUD urged back to the negotiating table in the Road Home case: Since the very beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, civil rights policy has often been informed by civil rights litigation, and responsible public officials have resolved important public policy issues in the context of settlement negotiations. It is disheartening to see the Department of Justice and HUD backing away from this tradition in the Road Home case. This case, filed by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Center, challenged the discriminatory impact of the program established to help victims of Hurricane Katrina rebuild their homes - a program that essentially deferred to a history of segregation and repaid black homeowners far less than white homeowners to rebuild similar homes. Read James Perry's excellent op-ed on the stalled settlement talks, and please consider signing the Center's petition to HUD.

A new study by Housing Action Illinois examines the barriers to Section 8 voucher mobility created by HUD's arcane "portability" system, with a specific review of portability moves in Chicago and Cook County. The study, "Moving or Moving Up? Understanding Residential Mobility for Housing Choice Voucher Families in Illinois" is available on Housing Action Illinois' webpage. We hope that this study will help to encourage HUD to accelerate its efforts to reform the current portability rules to allow for freer movement of voucher families across jurisdictional lines into lower poverty communities.

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

(p.s. - we missed our last regular update two weeks ago, as we were busy meeting with PRRAC's Social Science Advisory Board, followed immediately by our biannual Board of Directors' meeting - but we'll get back on track in June. To review past PRRAC updates, click here)
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