Opening Acts: January 31, 2019

Fair Housing and Affordable Housing Advocates Propose Policy Initiatives to Close the Divide in Housing in NYC Region

REPORT BY REGIONAL ROUNDTABLE ADVANCES A POLICY AGENDA FOCUSED ON AFFORDABILITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

On January 31, 2019, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise) released new policy agenda, titled Closing the Divide: Creating Equitable, Inclusive, and Affordable Communities.This policy agenda is the result of a year-long collaboration between more than 30 affordable housing, community development, fair housing, and other nonprofit organizations who participated in a Regional Affordable and Fair Housing Roundtable.

Co-convened by the FHJC and Enterprise, the Regional Affordable and Fair Housing Roundtable sought to educate affordable and fair housing organizations on key areas of concern to both sectors, identify shared priorities that both affordable housing and fair housing advocates could collectively work to advance or support in various ways, and create a dynamic and diverse working group. Through monthly meetings, facilitated by Bennett Brook of the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), representatives of these organizations were able to build trust and engage in candid conversations in order to fashion a shared policy platform.

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “The roundtable brought organizations together that have divergent views on specific housing policy issues, but after months of intense dialogue, we found that our shared values of equity, fairness, and inclusion enabled us to air our differences, discuss complex issues, and collaboratively draft a policy agenda that we, as a group, are comfortable bringing forward to a larger group of diverse stakeholders and policy-makers for consideration.”

Freiberg added, “We are living in perilous times when public discourse is too often dominated by rhetoric that only deepens our divisions. We need to create more spaces where reasonable people of all perspectives and backgrounds can work together to find constructive solutions that will garner broad support, reduce inequities, and solve problems.”

Closing the Divide sets out several policy priorities that the Roundtable identified around shared areas of concern across the New York City metropolitan region.  A draft of the final report was presented to a larger group of stakeholders at a Regional Affordable and Fair Housing Summit in November. Comments were obtained from many of the participants at the Summit and incorporated into the final report. The policy priorities include:

  • Improving tenant protections throughout the metropolitan region;
  • Removing exclusionary zoning and other land use barriers to promote accessible, integrated, and affordable housing;
  • Maximizing density to address affordable multifamily housing development needs throughout the region;
  • Expanding statewide source of income protections;
  • Increasing protections for justice-involved individuals;
  • Promoting mobility for households with rental subsidies throughout the region;
  • Confronting school segregation through housing policy;
  • Siting locally unwanted land use; and
  • Driving the community/residency preferences conversation to a productive end.

The Roundtable believes that these policy priorities are key to adequately addressing the housing affordability crisis and the discriminatory barriers that continue to inhibit housing choice within the region. Although there has been progress among Roundtable participants to identify shared areas of agreement, some policy issues are still under discussion. It is hoped that this policy agenda will form the basis for continued conversations on issues of mutual concern and spur the creation of effective coalitions and partnerships that can advance these and other policy priorities.

Enterprise New York’s Director of Policy & External Affairs Lorraine Collins said, “It was a pleasure to co-convene the regional roundtable and work with an amazing group of professionals. The experience far exceeded our expectations, as we witnessed leaders from various organizations and sectors come together to find common ground on potential affordable and fair housing policies that will have a tremendous impact on some of our most vulnerable populations. Our work is far from over, but with this report, we now have a strong foundation to build upon.”

Closing the Divide is available for download here. If you are interested in being involved in this work, please contact either the Fair Housing Justice Center or Enterprise Community partners to learn more.

The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit, civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster more open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.