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«Abstract Between 1992 and 1996 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) settled a number of legal cases involving housing ...»

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Obstacles to Desegregating Susan J. Popkin

George C. Galster

Public Housing: Lessons Kenneth Temkin

Learned from Implementing Carla Herbig

Eight Consent Decrees Diane K. Levy

Elise K. Richer

Abstract

Between 1992 and 1996 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) settled a number of legal cases involving housing authorities and agreed to take remedial action as part of court-enforced consent decrees entered into with plaintiffs. These housing authorities faced significant obstacles that impaired their ability to comply swiftly and fully with all of the elements in the desegregation consent decrees. The obstacles fell into two broad categories: contextual obstacles (racial composition of waiting lists and resident populations, lack of affordable rental housing, and inadequate public transportation), and capacity and coordination obstacles (conflict among implementing agencies and ineffective monitoring by HUD). Findings presented here highlight the sizable potential delay between the time a legal remedy is imposed and when plaintiffs in public housing segregation disputes realize any benefits. They also reinforce the argument that implementation problems will be legion when policies impose a significant scope of required changes on a large number of actors who must collaborate, yet are not uniformly capable or sympathetic to the goals being promoted. © 2003 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

INTRODUCTION

Over several generations, many local public housing authorities established and perpetuated racially segregated and discriminatory systems for public housing and other housing assistance, in violation of fair housing laws. These practices placed minority residents at a disadvantage by limiting their residential choices to often poorly maintained, ill-equipped public housing developments in neighborhoods characterized by high levels of poverty, crime, and other social ills. In recognition of this problem, between 1992 and 1996 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) settled a number of legal cases involving housing authorities, and agreed to take remedial action as part of court-enforced consent decrees entered into with plaintiffs.

These cases occurred within and, in a fundamental sense, reflected the larger context of changes in the debate over how best to promote desegregation and equal opportunity. In particular, the approach to addressing racial inequalities in education has shifted dramatically over the last 15 years, away from compulsory busing to more voluntary strategies. These strategies include efforts to attract white and middle-income Manuscript received March 2002; out for review March 2002; review completed May 2002; revision completed July 2002;

accepted October 2002.

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 22, No. 2, 179–199 (2003) © 2003 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/pam.10112 Uncorrected page proofs 180 / Obstacles to Desegregating Public Housing students to central-city school districts by creating magnet and charter schools and providing vouchers to low-income families in troubled school districts that allow them to pay for private schools. In most cases, remedies for public housing desegregation have avoided directly attempting to desegregate existing developments or housing authority waiting lists. Rather, as in education, the most common remedies have involved either trying to attract white or higher-income tenants by converting public housing into renovated, sometimes mixed-income developments or providing vouchers and counseling to enable minority tenants to move to predominantly white, middle-income areas that offer greater economic opportunity.

In this paper the challenges associated with implementing housing authority desegregation consent decrees are analyzed in eight sites (the name of each case and year of settlement is in parentheses): Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Sanders, 1994); Buffalo, New York (Comer, 1996); Dallas, Texas (Walker, 1995, 1996, 1997);

East Texas (Young, 1995); Minneapolis, Minnesota (Hollman, 1995); New Haven, Connecticut (Christian Community Action, 1995); New York City (Davis, 1992); and Omaha, Nebraska (Hawkins, 1994).1 The analysis is based on in-depth case studies conducted in each site, which included collection of archival and statistical information, key informant interviews with all major interested parties, and focus groups with public housing residents and those using Section 8 certificates as part of the remedy.2 These case studies were conducted in the summer and fall of 1998, so the analysis reflects information available at that time and should be interpreted as reflecting implementation progress during the first few years after the parties entered into consent decrees.

Though differing in some details, the consent decrees analyzed in this paper have common forms of remedial elements. Some of these elements relate to specific management procedures, such as creating unified housing authority waiting lists, which were relatively easy for housing authorities to implement. Other elements, such as providing additional Section 8 vouchers and certificates for replacement housing with effective mobility counseling, proved more challenging for housing authorities to implement.





The policy analyzed represents an archetype of what Matland (2000) refers to as a case of low policy ambiguity and high policy conflict requiring “political implementation.” Ambiguity is low over the policy and its goals; indeed, an explicit federal court order in each case specifies actions, desired outcomes, timetables, and even sometimes details of inter-institutional collaborative structures. However, conflict is high because neither the goals nor the means are uniformly shared by all implementation parties or the general public (Elmore, 1978). In such circumstances, implementation theory suggests, and this study confirms, that outcomes will be decided by power and will be more open to influences from the environment (Matland, 2000; Mazmanian and Sabatier, 1989).

Overall, housing authorities faced significant obstacles that impaired their ability to comply swiftly and fully with all of the elements in the consent decree. These

obstacles fell into two broad categories:

1 The original 1987 Walker decree in Dallas was vacated in 1992 and a final judgment and remedial orders against the defendants were issued in 1995 and 1996 (superseded by a modified decree in 1997).

Most recently, the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling on replacement housing in March 1999. The Young case in East Texas affects 70 housing authorities in the East Texas region; the first court order in Young was issued in 1988, but the final judgment and decree was not issued until 1995.

2 Section 8 was the name of the program at the time of our study, thus we eschew usage of the current label, Housing Mobility Vouchers.

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• Contextual obstacles, that is, structural factors largely beyond the implementation agencies’ control, including the racial composition of housing authority waiting lists and resident populations, inadequate supply of affordable rental housing, and lack of public transportation to low-poverty neighborhoods.

• Capacity and coordination obstacles, namely administrative factors that could have been altered by the implementation agencies, including: conflict among the numerous agents responsible for implementation; community and tenant resistance to desegregation remedies; and inadequate HUD monitoring of housing authority compliance.

Indeed, none of the housing authorities had fully implemented its decree, even in some cases where the consent decree was entered into several years before these case studies were conducted. Findings highlight the sizable potential delay between the time a legal decision regarding remedy is reached and plaintiffs in public housing segregation disputes realize any benefits. They also reinforce arguments from the literature regarding the implementation problems associated with imposing a significant scope of required changes on a large number of actors who must collaborate, yet are not uniformly capable or sympathetic to the goals being imposed from above (Mazmanian and Sabatier, 1983, 1989; Pressman and Wildavsky, 1973;

Sabatier, 1986; Van Meter and Van Horn, 1975).

HISTORY OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AND SEGREGATION IN THE ADMINISTRATION

OF PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAMS

The Legacy of Officially Sanctioned Discrimination and Segregation Race and subsidized housing have been explicitly intertwined since the inception of New Deal housing initiatives (Olion-Chandler, 1992). For example, before World War II, 236 of the 261 developments subsidized by the United States Housing Authority and 43 of the 49 supported by the Public Works Administration (or 90 percent of the total) were completely segregated racially, usually by admitting to a given development only those of a particular race (Coulibaly, Green, and James, 1998). Discriminatory public housing practices continued during and after the War (Goldstein and Yancey{EQ1}, 1986; Hirsch, 1983; Rossi and Dentler, 1961).

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 officially prohibited discrimination in the administration of federally assisted housing. Little desegregation followed, however. As of 1992, 60 percent of public housing developments had 80 percent or more tenants in one racial-ethnic group, and 15 percent had all tenants in one group (Coulibaly et al., 1998).3 Black families were most likely to reside in high-density, overwhelmingly segregated public housing developments in increasingly poor neighborhoods (Bickford and Massey, 1991; Goering, Kamely, and Richardson, 1997).

Ironically, these findings appeared at the point at which a consensus was emerging that, for a wide variety of behaviors—like educational attainment, labor force participation, criminality, mental health, and out-of-wedlock child bearing—the neighborhood environment matters (Ellen and Turner, 1997; Gephardt{EQ2}, 1997; Leventhal and Brooks-Gunn, 2000). One aspect of neighborhoods that especially matters empirically is the proportion of households with incomes below the poverty level (Bickford and Massey, 1991; Galster, in press; Massey, Gross, and Eggers, 1991). For this reason, the continued 3 Of these homogeneous developments, 57 percent are occupied by African Americans, 43 percent by whites.

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concentration of minority-occupied, family public housing in high-poverty neighborhoods has great ethical and social importance (Massey and Kahaiaupuni, 1993).

The Evolving Federal Response to Public Housing Desegregation Suits Not surprisingly, given its social costs and unfairness, the discriminatory legacy of public housing has often been challenged in the courts. Perhaps the most famous early suit was the Gautreaux case, a pair of class action suits filed in 1966 against the Chicago Housing Authority and HUD. As Rubinowitz (1992; Rubinowitz and Rosenbaum, 2000) states, the Gautreaux decisions established the precedent that past discrimination could be remedied by moving low-income African Americans to white areas, an approach to public housing desegregation that served as the model for all subsequent litigation.

Additional precedents were set in the early 1980s by HUD’s response to a series of lawsuits directed at rural and small-town public housing authorities in a 39-county area of East Texas, known collectively as the Young case (Goering, 1986, p. 197).

HUD argued, first, that the massive and mandatory transfer of tenants within public housing should not be seen as the best or only remedy. Second, local housing authorities should have the flexibility to tailor remedies to fit their own circumstances and contexts. Finally, remedies would be instituted in conjunction with HUD’s funding of modernization of the affected public housing stock, with receipt of this funding tied to approved desegregation plans.

During the late 1980s, the Walker case in Dallas was litigated, with the court issuing a consent decree against the Dallas Housing Authority and HUD in 1987, and against the City of Dallas in 1990. The Walker case was significant because the set of remedies ordered was much more wide ranging than the Gautreaux decrees, including: changes to tenant assignment and selection procedures; the demolition of a large, deteriorated public housing development; construction of replacement housing in predominantly white areas; the provision of Section 8 certificates and vouchers for replacement housing; the creation of a tenant mobility assistance program; the creation of new housing opportunities for low-income households in predominantly white, suburban areas; and the equalization of conditions between the housing authority’s predominantly white, elderly developments and predominantly African American, family developments. Thus, the Walker decree, with its complex set of provisions, represented the next stage of evolution for public housing desegregation cases and became the model for all subsequent negotiations.

The Clinton administration departed from the previous HUD strategy of contesting public housing lawsuits. Instead it acknowledged the role HUD had played in neglecting housing authority segregation and discrimination, and developed a strategy of settling the cases by supporting solutions to ensure “fair housing” for the plaintiffs. That is, as in Walker, minority households were to be given expanded opportunities to live in higher quality, desegregated residential environments by changing the character of existing public housing developments and their surrounding communities, building new developments in scattered-site settings, and expanding the use of Section 8 certificates in areas with low percentages of minority households. The challenges faced during the early implementation of these initiatives are the primary focus of this report.

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evidence on which to base their decisions. Although research on the Gautreaux program provided some evidence about how effective mobility counseling programs might be operated (Davis, 1993) and the potential impacts of mobility programs on tenants (Kaufman and Rosenbaum, 1992; Popkin, Rosenbaum, and Meaden, 1993;



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