The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced it is making available $50 million to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to “develop programs to help low-income families with housing vouchers access low-poverty, high-opportunity areas.” These funds are critical for housing authorities to undo the decades of segregation that has siloed off families of color away from neighborhoods with resources, jobs, fresh food, and other positive social determinants of health.
This $50 million is an opportunity to challenge the housing authorities in our state — such as Houston Housing Authority, San Antonio Housing Authority, and Fort Worth Housing Solutions — to apply and work toward dismantling both the segregation in their existing project-based housing inventories and the segregation of project based rental assistance (PBRAs) within their jurisdictions.
According to HUD, participating PHAs can now apply for funding (through October 13, 2020) to provide individualized housing mobility counseling and search assistance, landlord recruitment in low-poverty, well-resourced neighborhoods, and continued support for families after their move. This is the attention to detail that is required for true housing mobility instead of what has happened in the past. We need oversight, transparency, and a plan designed to handle all phases of relocation and beyond.
Demetria McCain of the Inclusive Communities Project in Dallas spoke about the funding:
“As one of the three long-running housing mobility programs in the country, the Inclusive Communities Project is excited that HUD is moving to implement the Mobility Demonstration authorized by Congress. Housing Mobility works for voucher families, landlords, and communities. We have witnessed this based on decades of research and real-life experience working with voucher families. The Demonstration will support PHAs who want to help their families access the opportunities they long for and deserve.”
Our core mission at Texas Housers is to advocate for low-income people to live in a decent neighborhood of their choosing. We are urging housing authorities in Texas to jump at this opportunity to make this a reality and break the segregated “business-as-usual” that our governmental systems have deemed acceptable for far too long.
What faces housing authorities in Texas is a serious challenge. Given the degree of segregation of many of these residences, this opportunity to apply for a grant to permit mobility on the part of their segregated tenants is a real test of their commitment to this fundamental civil right.