The proposed Strength in Diversity Act (HR 729), which passed the House in 2020 with bipartisan support, includes a priority for proposals “demonstrated meaningful coordination with local housing agencies to increase access to schools that have a disproportionately low number of low-income students.” The bill was reintroduced in 2021.
The HUD Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, which the Trump Administration had suspended, is expected to be reissued next year. If the new rule is similar to the Obama Administration AFFH rule, we hope to see strong provisions requiring assessment of housing im- pacts on school segregation and increased collaboration between housing agencies and school agencies (see article on AFFH, this issue).
Prioritizing access to low-poverty, high-performing schools in housing mobility programs: As housing mobility programs for families with Housing Choice Vouchers expand across the country, more public housing authorities are focusing on the qualities of school districts in “high-opportunity areas,” seeking out well-funded schools that have positive school climates and that will work to help children from low-performing schools catch up and thrive. See Mobility Works’ presentation at the 2020 “Housing Is” conference: https://youtu.be/0lACAQ1HLVU.
Linking magnet schools and public housing redevelopment: Participating public housing authorities in the Choice Neighborhoods program are encouraged to collaborate with their local school districts – and we have urged both HUD and the Department of Education to support these collaborations by targeting Magnet Schools Assistance Program grants – see our policy brief, Mixed-Income Neighborhoods, and Integrated Schools: Linking HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative with the Department of Education’s Magnet Schools Assistance Program (March 2021).
Targeting high-performing, low-poverty schools in state LIHTC plans: The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program is currently the largest low-income housing construction program in the U.S., and state housing finance agencies are delegated the authority (consistent with the Fair Housing Act) to develop annual “Qualified Allocation Plans” to guide which developers and projects are selected for funding. A few states have prioritized developments near highly rated schools, and other states can copy this approach in their annual plans if advocates speak out.
Affirmative marketing: Once an affordable housing development is located in a high-opportunity area with low-poverty, highly rated schools, there is no guarantee that it will offer housing opportunities for families with children currently living in high-poverty neighborhoods. This is where strong outreach, affirmative marketing, and non-discriminatory tenant selection policies come in – see PRRAC’s guide, Accessing Opportunity: Recommendations for Marketing and Tenant Selection in LIHTC and Other Housing Programs (2012).