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PRRAC Update August 18, 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.

Sustainable Communities and Fair Housing

We applaud HUD for its new "Regional Fair Housing and Equity Assessment," unveiled as part of the Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI), a program that funds coordinated regional housing and transportation planning in over forty metropolitan areas. This new assessment tool, which will be used by all regional planning grantees, moves the SCI program beyond vague "equity" language to a more rigorous and sophisticated civil rights analysis. Unveiled at a recent HUD Webinar, the Assessment will include detailed analyses of "racially concentrated areas of poverty, "disparities in access to opportunity," and identification of public investments to promote increased integration and access to opportunity. We will be following the program to see if this new assessment and planning requirement for regional grantees will lead to appropriate policy, planning, development, and resource allocation decisions - and how HUD will take steps to ensure they do so. For example, will SCI grantees actually develop regional fair share housing plans or housing mobility programs to operationalize these new planning insights, and to what extent will the new tool offer opportunities to have transportation planning promote access to places of opportunity? We look forward to reporting on some of these regional plans in the near future (click here to see a listing of all the current SCI grantees).

Obama Administration Announces No Child Left Behind "Waiver" Plan

The Obama Administration announced that it will move forward with a waiver plan instead of waiting for the seemingly non-existent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told states that the Department would grant waivers for certain parts of current law but would demand yet unnamed conditions in exchange. Media reports have hinted that the Department will allow states to revise AYP pass rates and possibly rescind requirements for supplemental education services and the right to transfer at failing schools. PRRAC is working with several other civil rights organizations to ensure that any waiver proposal protects and promotes the educational rights of low-income and minority students. Look for updates in the coming weeks as the Administration rolls out more details about the waiver plan.

More on Reform of the Housing Finance Market

For the past year, PRRAC has been an active participant in a broad coalition that has weighed in on civil rights aspects of the redesign of the housing finance market (including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). This month, members of the coalition released a new statement in response to the Administration's housing finance reform proposals, along with two related issue briefs, "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and Secondary Mortgage Market Reform" and "Finishing What Dodd-Frank Started."

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

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