Congressman Introduces Bill to Prod Administration on Fair Housing Enforcement

Nikole Hannah-Jones
ProPublica / News Report
Published: Thursday 17 January 2013
Green’s bill would, among other things, create a testing and enforcement program to be administered by HUD.
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As the nation prepares to celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday Monday, Congressman Al Green, a Texas Democrat, has introduced a bill, for the fourth time, tofund a national program to test for housing discrimination.

Green introduced the Veterans, Women, Families with Children, Race and Persons with Disabilities Housing Fairness Act yesterday, on King's birthday. King strongly advocated for an end to housing segregation and it took his assassination to nudge a reluctant Congress to finally pass the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act.

A recent ProPublica investigation found that the federal government has largely failed to enforce the pivotal law and America remains highly segregated. As we detailed, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development does not test to see if landlords and banks may be violating the law. As a result, most discrimination goes unpunished.

Green's bill would, among other things, create a testing and enforcement program to be administered by HUD. The proposed cost: $15 million. HUD in the past has come out in support of the bill, though as we have previously noted HUD could start a testing program on its own.

Green's previous bills on the issue have all died in committee, without reaching a full vote in the House.

“I don't believe this is something we can ignore. I plan to keep introducing the bill as long as I am in Congress until we pass it,” Green said in an earlier interview with ProPublica. “There are people who live in the streets of life, who don't live in the suites of life, who still have the discomforts of invidious discrimination.”

ABOUT Nikole Hannah-Jones


Hannah-Jones joined ProPublica in late 2011. Prior to that, she covered governmental issues, the census, and race and ethnicity at The Oregonian. There she exposed significant shortcomings in the enforcement of fair housing laws in Portland, and eventually prompted officials to draft the city’s first fair housing plan. She has won the Society of Professional Journalists Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism Award three times.

Before The Oregonian, Hannah-Jones was a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., where she covered school equity and the racial achievement gap. She has also gone on reporting fellowships to Cuba and Barbados where she wrote about race and education.

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