Count Us In: Inclusive Planning and Design for Health, Mobility and Equity

Community planning and policy makers are becoming more aware of the legal, social and economic rationale for inclusive planning and design in the built environment. The Idaho Access Project (IAP) coordinated a session on inclusive planning as part of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute’s 2021 Conference, ‘Bouncing Forward: Building Thriving, Healthy & Equitable Communities.’
IAP Board members are joined by D.C.-based Attorney and Occupational Therapist expert Barbara Kornblau and City of Cheshire, CT Planning Director William Voelker to explore accessibility, Fair Housing, Section 504, land-use, housing and community development principles essential to social equity and public health and safety.
See the video of the session here: https://tinyurl.com/yfagdbut

Neighbor-on-neighbor hate crimes violate Fair Housing Act

Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Making Racially Motivated Threats Toward Black Neighbor and to Unlawful Possession of Firearms

Many people assume the Fair Housing Act only applies to situations involving landlord/tenant interactions or the sale, purchase or advertising of housing. But the Act also applies in cases of tenant-on-tenant or neighbor-on-neighbor harassment.

Shepherd Hoehn, 51, plead guilty to “criminal interference with housing rights and a weapons charge” (firearms possession while a habitual user of marijuana is illegal under Indiana and federal law). Hoehn made threats based on race to intimidate his neighbor and to intimidate someone exercising his right to fair housing in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3631. The guilty plea is the latest action in the case since the FBI exercised a federal search warrant on Hoehn’s property on July 1, 2020.

“Hoehn’ s hateful and threatening conduct, motivated by racial intolerance, is an egregious crime that will not be tolerated by the Justice Department,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pam Karlan of the Civil Rights Division. “Every person has a right to occupy, enjoy and feel safe in their homes, regardless of race, color or national origin. We will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals and vigorously prosecute hate crime cases.”

Hoehn was found guilty of displays intended to intimidate and threaten his neighbor, including a cross burning; placing Nazi symbolism and threatening racial slurs on his fence, blasting racially charged music toward the neighbor’s home, and pelting the neighbor’s home with eggs.

“Hoehn’s sentencing date has not been set at this time. Hoehn faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the charged offenses.”

Read more here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/indiana-man-pleads-guilty-hate-crime-making-racially-charged-motivated-threats-toward-black

Worden Memo Details LGBTQ Protections

HUD to expand fair housing protections for transgender people
“HUD becomes first agency to follow President Biden’s executive order to ensure civil rights protections include gender identity and sexual orientation”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/02/11/hud-expand-fair-housing-protections-transgender-people/

Read the full Worden Memo

This marks a clear move away from the policy positions under previous HUD Director Ben Carson, and expands on former HUD Director Sean Donovan’s announcement in 2012. Read our 2012 post on the topic here.

 

Ending Discrimination Would “Supercharge the Economy.”

…if you could give me one thing to do to supercharge the economy, I would say, end discrimination across the American economy. Discrimination is holding back our economy. It’s holding back our middle class.

Title in large red block letters against plain off-white background: The Riches of This Land: The story of what went wrong and how to get it back. Author Jim Tankersly

This is the conclusion of journalist Jim Tankersley, who covers economics and tax policy and recently published The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True History of America’s Middle Class.

He has spent over a decade studying the American middle class; how it became a symbol of the American Dream following World War II, how the middle class built one of the world’s most powerful economies, and how powerful interests undermined the gains of the working class. From the 1950s through the 80s, middle-class households with a single income earner could afford a home, car, health care, a college education…even vacations and retirement savings.

The erosion of the middle class means that today, most full-time workers are underwater as full-time work too often leaves many in poverty and debt. At the start of 2021, analysis indicates the extended pandemic and recession have resulted in the Sharpest Rise in Poverty Rate in More Than 50 Years. 

…if you were to design a recession to hurt most the people who have most helped to build the American middle class, you would design basically this one.

Tankersley advocates for policies that help those people responsible for the growth and productivity of the middle class from the 50s through the 80s, which he describes as, “women of all races…men of color and immigrants.” We hear time and again that these are the workers hurt most in the current recession. Women are the default caregivers when schools and child care centers are closed; they are most likely to care for elderly parents, and they the most likely to lose employment opportunities or promotions as a result.

Next to women, people of color and immigrants—often serving as essential workers—have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the lack of health care and sick leave, and the cascading impacts on employment options. This follows a steady decline in purchasing power and stability over the past 40 years.

This perspective draws the same conclusion as those pursuing economic resilience from a fair housing approach, which recognizes the access to opportunity afforded by housing types and price points distributed across regions, communities and neighborhoods. When everyone has access to stable housing and essential community assets, we all benefit from better overall health outcomes, increased productivity, and more people moving from public assistance to family supporting, gainful employment.

In his interview with Fresh Air co-host Dave Davies, Tankersley notes that, “…if you could reduce discrimination across the economy and invest in each other’s success, then we really could see this upward flow of talent and this boom of job creation and growth.”