New Orleans, U.S. must acknowledge, address citywide housing discrimination

As Tulane students transition into the real world, they will have to consider a very critical aspect of living: finding housing. Most Tulane students, if they are capable of finding a place to live, could have virtually no problems whatsoever in securing housing. Others, however, may face an obstacle in the form of housing discrimination.

Housing discrimination is a very real and dangerous phenomenon that many marginalized communities experience when embarking on housing searches. It occurs when a potential tenant or homeowner is denied the ability to buy or rent housing due to any reason that could result from prejudice, such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability or marital status, just to name a few. Housing authorities all over the U.S. should be working to prevent housing discrimination to provide everyone, including marginalized people, with access to housing regardless of whatever differences people have.

Normally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would be working on policies to prevent housing discrimination. HUD placed part of that mission into question when the department announced possibly removing any mention of discrimination from HUD’s mission statement.

While HUD officials, including HUD Secretary Ben Carson, have tried to reassure the public that the wording of the mission statement will not have any impact on HUD’s actual mission, it is important to consider how critical it is that HUD recognizes housing discrimination as a serious problem.

According to the National Fair Housing Alliance, there were over 28,000 reported cases of housing discrimination in the U.S. in 2016. Over half of these incidents were based on disability, while race constituted the next bulk of cases.

In New Orleans, the Fair Housing Action Center has proven cases of housing discrimination in the past. They have found that approximately 50 percent of cases in the Greater New Orleans area were a result of racial prejudice.

These statistics demonstrate that housing discrimination causes segregation that is forced by property owners nationwide, including in New Orleans. Housing disparities and lack of opportunities do not exist by fate or by accident.

Housing discrimination is a major cause of forced housing disparities in different parts of the country. Accepting that it is a legitimate problem will hopefully initiate a process of gradually increasing housing opportunities for marginalized communities.

New Orleans has resources, such as the Housing Authority of New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans Area Fair Housing Action Center, to help victims of housing discrimination find, fight for and secure housing. They have shown effort in helping New Orleans and have set an example for other cities.

Now, victims of housing discrimination need top-level support from our administration. HUD’s mission statement should not be taken lightly. Mentioning housing discrimination is a way for HUD to show support for those who struggle to secure housing because of their identity. If our federal government cannot demonstrate support for marginalized communities, then we will always perpetuate housing segregation.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]

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