Trying to connect the dots between housing, equality, and success in a way that makes sense is quite a stretch, even for Barack Obama. Our incomes are not secured by our equal protection rights. Neither are our houses, though they had a lot to do with the bad mortgages for unaffordable dreams that helped cause the president’s Great Recession. Owning a McMansion can be a sign of success. It can also be a sign of doing something foolish and irresponsible.
There aren’t many McMansions in the neighborhoods HUD wants to help out with the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. The ballyhoo in the wake of the SCOTUS decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project makes it sound like the rule will empower minority neighborhoods beyond their means. That is not going to happen. Poor is poor and no fair housing rule is going to change that.
Segregation by zip code or destiny by income?
The zip code vs. opportunity argument is infuriating for community activist types because it has no solution. Minorities aren’t confined to poor neighborhoods because of their color. They are stuck in poor neighborhoods because they don’t have any money. Their employment and housing opportunities are limited for the same reason. Building better housing and forcing integrated neighborhoods won’t change that.
Obama tried to equate fair housing with success in life after the Supreme Court ruling:
The Court recognized what many people know to be true from their own lives: that too often, where people live determines what opportunities they have in life.1
Obama wasn’t really talking about housing. He’s talking about the right to success. That right doesn’t exist and it never will. No matter how fair and equitable we try to make housing opportunities, it doesn’t change the fundamental fact of income inequality that all the government spending back to Lyndon Johnson has not been able to fix (see: A Great Society Demands Respect.).
Fair housing still costs money
Democrats are grasping at straws. The reality of Obama’s failure to empower minorities is glaring as his presidency draws to a close. The dream of owning a house or even renting a decent residence comes second to your income, but the HUD rule is being used to confuse opportunity with fair housing regulations. HUD Secretary Julian Castro boasted:
The Supreme Court has made it clear that HUD can continue to use this critical tool to eliminate the unfair barriers that have deferred and derailed too many dreams. 2
The only dream that has been derailed is the dream of Democrats having some proof that they did something to help the troubled minority masses.
Disparate impact claims won’t put millionaires in Englewood
There aren’t a lot of millionaires in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.
All the fair housing data in the world about what areas need help3 will not create opportunity, especially in places like Barack Obama’s hometown where city government refuses to acknowledge that spending into near bankruptcy hasn’t created opportunity or growth in poor neighborhoods.
Illinois’ unemployment rate for African-Americans is staggering, 11.7% for women and 17.9% for men in 2014 according to Illinois Department of Employment Security figures released in March 2015.4 Nationwide the figure was 9.5% for all African Americans in June 2015, down from 10.2% the previous month.5
Chicago’s unemployment rate is above the national average. As of July 1 the city is forcing businesses to pay a minimum wage of $10.00 per hour which, if conservative voices prove correct, will not be a panacea for creating more jobs. The city is destitute, in part because government workers command pensions far out of proportion to the incomes of many of the people they serve. Disparate impact claims aren’t going to fix these problems and they aren’t going to put money in people’s pockets so they can afford housing labeled “affordable.”
Is income our next right after housing?
There is not enough time left in the Obama presidency and not enough Democratic clout on Capitol Hill to cover up the failures or to take the next step in the liberal dialogue over fairness, rights, and equality. That step is a guaranteed right to a livable income, a prize the living wage movement failed to secure (see: Everyday Average American Won’t Fight for 15). Until we have enough irresponsible voices in Washington to make that kind of socialist stupidity a reality, the best minority Americans are going to get are assurances that a rule like HUD’s AFFH is going to make a difference in their lives. Rest assured that if anyone benefits, it won’t be the ones used as an excuse to pass the rule. The only thing that will help them is the kind of economic opportunity Democrats continue to discourage whenever they force the government to step in.