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PRRAC Update June 23, 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.

Fair Housing and the mortgage finance system

PRRAC has been working as part of a broad civil rights coalition seeking to influence the redesign of the U.S. housing finance system, in the wake of the foreclosure crisis and the forced receivership of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Part of the analysis of the Obama Administration's reform proposals focuses on the fair housing implications of the new housing finance system: Who gains and who loses? Will communities of color be disproportionately shut out of the "new" home mortgage market? And how will the new system promote racial and economic integration in housing, as mandated by the Fair Housing Act? Read our latest policy brief for more detail on how housing finance reform can affirmatively further fair housing.

How does the U.N. race discrimination treaty go beyond U.S. civil rights laws?

This question is addressed in a new fact sheet from the U.S. Human Rights Network, the Human Rights at Home Campaign, and PRRAC -- and the answers may surprise you. We are assisting the U.S. Human Rights Network in its efforts to coordinate a "civil society" response to the upcoming U.S. report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, anticipated in November 2011.

Voluntary school integration in Wake County, North Carolina

PRRAC joined with other members of the National Coalition on School Diversity in a letter of support to the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in response to a recent Title VI complaint filed against the Wake County School Board for its efforts to dismantle one of the most successful voluntary school integration programs in the country.

Other news and resources

New Houston Institute report encourages expansion of METCO: The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice (CHHIRJ) at Harvard Law School, in collaboration with the Pioneer Institute, recently released a new policy brief on Massachusetts' Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity program. METCO sends Boston and Springfield students to public schools in the surrounding suburbs. The program increases racial diversity in primarily, white suburban schools and allows students to enroll in high-performing districts. METCO Merits More: The History and Status of METCO, co-authored by National Coalition on School Diversity members Susan Eaton and Gina Chirichigno, reviews data on student enrollment, performance, demographics, graduation and college attainment rates, waiting lists, and funding to make a compelling case for expanding funding for the program.

We were sorry to hear HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims' recent resignation announcement. Deputy Secretary Sims has been an advocate for fair housing, sustainability, and reform at HUD, and we especially appreciated his focus on the intersection of race, place, and opportunity. As he often said, "a zip code should not determine a person's path in life" (see for example his recent interview in Shelterforce magazine). We hope that the next Deputy Secretary at HUD has a similar broad vision and progressive commitment to justice and fair housing! In the meantime, we wish Ron Sims the best as he returns to Seattle to be back with his family.

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

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