Monday, July 22, 2013

HUD's New 'Fair Housing' Rule

When I saw the article HUD's New 'Fair Housing' Rule Establishes Diversity Data for Every Neighborhood in U.S., I immediately thought the data collection is a terrible idea.
To ensure that "every American is able to choose to live in a community they feel proud of," HUD has published a new fair-housing regulation intended to give people access to better neighborhoods than the ones they currently live in.

The goal is to help communities understand "fair housing barriers" and "establish clear goals" for "improving integrated living patterns and overcoming historic patterns of segregation."
Sounds pretty harmless, doesn't it?  History would suggest that the U.S. government will do two things if they feel neighborhoods are segregated.   They will attempt to force integration, or they will force lenders to give under-qualified applicants loans to get into neighborhoods in which they can't actually afford houses.  The second method was part of what brought us the housing crisis.  The first would likely have to involve the forced relocation of families.  Either option will likely have ugly results.

By the way, it isn't even a great idea.  A liberal Harvard political scientist found much to his dismay, that diversity actually harms civic life.  People need to come to see each other as people before you simply force them to live together.  If enlightenment doesn't precede integration, you don't get great results.
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.
That isn't to say that we as human beings shouldn't work to overcome  the tribal instincts that likely evolved as survival mechanisms in a harsh world since our world no longer works that way (or shouldn't work that way, in any case).  It does mean that forcing diverse people to live near one another doesn't solve the problem, it seems to exacerbate it. 

I think working toward educating and enlightening people is a better approach than social engineering.  Further, it might help people make less big a deal of skin color if the government itself stopped dividing us up that way in its statistics and governance.

1 comment:

littlebitofsonshine said...

So true ,why i chose to be a Rainbow,as,how do you choose,from a diverse,so called race,blood,or creed back ground?