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Resource ID: #25779
ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones looked at how and why the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development has failed to enforce the Fair Housing Act. She traced the nation's history of housing discrimination, from the Great Migration of African Americans to Northern cities in the early 1900's to the post-World War II boom and into the 1960's. Again and again, her reporting showed, federal agencies played a pivotal role in keeping white and black Americans separate. While the law required localities to “affirmatively further'' fair housing, neither Democratic nor Republican presidents had the political will to enforce it. Over time, courts interpreted that provision to mean that HUD could withhold billions of dollars in grants from communities that were not doing everything possible to end segregation. Yet officials charged with enforcing the fair housing law told Hannah-Jones they were often ignored or undercut by others inside HUD, who saw the agency's main mission as distributing development dollars. Even when courts issued rulings insisting that communities honor the law's intentions, as she notes in a case about Westchester County, New York, they were routinely ignored by HUD officials and local politicians alike. Hannah-Jones also looked at how little HUD does to root out or punish racial steering and overt discrimination in the sale and rental of property. Millions of Latinos and African Americans face such bias each year. Yet HUD hardly ever does the sort of undercover testing proven to catch landlords and real estate agents in the act.