Thursday, May 19, 2011

HUD Spokesperson's Viewpoint on Portland Fair Housing Audit Follow Up; My Overall Editorial Comments On Audit and Follow On Actions.

Post from the American Independent is HERE. At end of story HUD spokesperson says: 
“As was the case in the City’s decision to contract with the [FHCO] to conduct a ‘test’ in advance of the City’s revision of its Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing and the association action plan, the City’s release yesterday of the list – as well as the sending of letters to landlords and owners – reflects the City’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations under the Act.
My Editorial Comments on Fair Housing and Audit Follow Up: 
  • Because there was not a history of following up on fair housing testing results, the City got behind the curve in referring audit cases to BOLI. I am glad that the Oregonian published the names of the audited projects, the owners, and the management companies after a public record request. I think that the Oregonian stories DID cause the City to focus and accelerate their follow up plans and I am sure that future audits WILL result in referrals. In the long run all of these developments are a good thing.[Emphasis on "long run"].
  • Given the delay in referring cases, it is understandable that some would jump to a "they don't care" conclusion. People are free to think what they want but my past experience with the Commissioner and PHB leadership and staff doesn't support that generalization at all. I'd suggest that we all look at the scope of follow on actions in the coming weeks to see if my opinion is validated.
  • Speaking about follow on actions, I think Portland is ahead of other CDBG entitlements in Oregon in developing their new Analysis of Impediments. I am sure that testing and follow up will be part of the AI and seems likely that Portland will update once 2010 Census data becomes available. [I.E. It won't be a one time document done every 5 years].
  • It will be interesting to see the outcome of the cases referred to BOLI, and how carefully they are tracked by the City and the media. If I were the owner and/or management company and IF there was clear evidence of discriminatory activity, I  would see it would be in my best interest to reach a negotiated settlement that would include paying into an education or testing fund and/or doing affirmative advertising and outreach. (I only hope that the quality of evidence from each test in the audit is sufficient to meet the standard of proof the process requires).
  • Portland has largely untold positive Fair Housing stories to tell about neighborhood diversity and the large percentage of voucher holders in Multnomah County who are minorities. [This is likely true for public housing and other HAP/PHB housing programs also].

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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