This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which Congress passed one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. King dedicated the last years of his life to the Chicago Freedom Movement, fighting housing discrimination and government policies that created segregation and trapped black Chicagoans in high-poverty neighborhoods. This movement and, tragically, King’s murder, helped spur passage of the FHA, which remains one of our nation’s most vital civil rights laws.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced that it is suspending a critical tool for carrying out the act’s mandate to combat residential segregation. This action stymies a rule that would finally enforce local housing authorities’ longstanding, but long ignored, obligations to reduce segregation and barriers of access to desired neighborhoods. HUD once again has fallen short of its mission to create “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination,” yet another example of the Trump administration’s disregard of the civil rights commitments secured by the sacrifices of King and others.