A round-up of news and features about homelessness and housing. Photo at right by Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune. But first a pair of stories from CityLab, an Atlantic news source about urban life:
What the Supreme Court's 'Disparate Impact' Decision Means for the Future of Fair Housing, by Kriston Kapps, June 25, 2015, CityLab
The United States Supreme Court was busy this week! Besides the two noted rulings on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality, SCOTUS ruled on a Texas fair housing case. In a nutshell, communities that build affordable housing only in areas of concentrated poverty may be perpetuating racial discrimination even if they did not intend to discriminate.
“At the heart of the decision is the notion of “disparate impact”: whether the Fair Housing Act can be read to prohibit policies that adversely affect minority groups even when that’s not the stated goal of the policy. Explicit racial discrimination is illegal under the Fair Housing Act. According to the court’s ruling today, disparate impact is recognizable as a category of racial discrimination under the law.”
However, though the court's decision does uphold the concept of disparate impact claims, it also made clear that numbers alone don't make a case of disparate impact. Instead, it is still necessary to show that a particular policy actually caused a disparity. Also, a disparity could be deemed necessary to achieve a particular goal. That, from Amy Howe writing for ScotusBlog, a plain English guide to the Supreme Court decision.
What this could mean for Beacon and other housing developers: It might become easier, at least officially, to get approval to develop affordable housing in communities such as Wayzata or Edina than in neighborhoods like North Minneapolis or Phillips where there is greater need but also greater concentration of people of color.
Every Single County in America Is Facing an Affordable Housing Crisis, by Kriston Capps, June 18, 2015, CityLab
Affordable housing for extremely low-income Americans (those with less than 30 percent of area median income) is out of reach everywhere. In the Twin Cities area 30 percent of AMI would be about $13,200 for a family of four.
And for some feel-good, good old American values:
Twin Cities newspaper gives homeless a voice – and a job by James Walsh, June 18, 2015, Star Tribune
An enterprising and generous man creates a publication, Prevail News, by and for people experiencing homelessness – who also sell the papers, earning money while doing meaningful work.
Ed note: this Homewords entry was updated June 29, 2015.