HCC decries proposed HUD mission statement change
Recently, Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), issued a statement that alarms Heights Community Congress (HCC) members, who feel it should alarm their neighbors as well. Carson said that HUD will amend its mission statement to remove, among other things, references to creating “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
One of HUD’s most important responsibilities is the enforcement and promotion of the Fair Housing Act. This governmental responsibility is so important because, for generations, the federal government denied equal housing opportunities to people of color, which helped to create and perpetuate residential segregation. The Fair Housing Act, passed 50 years ago this year, was designed to undo the prior years of discrimination. It was to eliminate all forms of housing discrimination and to create integrated, healthy and inclusive communities.
HUD has a responsibility to use its mission statement to express its commitment and priorities: that it will fulfill the federal law’s requirement to provide for fair housing throughout the United States. To remove anti-discrimination language from the HUD mission statement and to reduce spending on fair housing programs sends a negative message that victims of housing discrimination are not priorities.
HCC continues to use all of its resources to eradicate housing discrimination and to promote healthy, safe and inclusive neighborhoods. HCC deplores the idea that HUD will eliminate anti-discrimination language from its mission statement, since this is not just a local issue but one that touches every community in the country. We and all Americans need HUD to speak strongly and be at the forefront of national efforts to ensure that our community and others are free from discrimination and policies that create red lines meant to separate those who might be considered “other.”
Here's a look at HUD’s current and proposed mission statements (from The Washington Post):
Current mission statement: HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.
Revised mission statement: HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.
Pam Wetherill is a volunteer with Heights Community Congress. She serves on its Fair Housing Committee, and is a resident of University Heights.