Achtenberg Keynotes Summit January 19, Saying "Every Community Should have a Fair Housing Plan"

Saying "Every community in America should have a fair housing plan," Roberta Achtenberg, keynoted the Fair Housing Summit held January 19-22, in Arlington.

The HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity told the opening session of the Summit of the Clinton Administration's intention to join them in a "course of action" to end housing discrimination. She emphasized that only through compliance and enforcement measures will the action take place.

Achtenberg said, "Today's HUD is already a positive force. Under the leadership of a Secretary who sees spatial separation by race as a fundamental problem in America, we are already in action."

New Effort For Scattered-Site Housing

She reported new efforts to downsize large, innercity public housing developments and replace them with scattered-site housing. Achtenberg told about the Moving to Opportunity program which enables minority public housing residents to move to conventional housing in low-minority communities. She said these plans are reflected in President Clinton's January 17, Executive order "which for the first time puts the full weight of the federal government behind efforts to increase real housing choices for all Americans."

She said, "Today signals a new stage in the battle for fair housing. The federal government is joining you - to carry its share of the load."

Calling for "...effective, affirmative responses to the evils of discrimination," Achtenberg decried the misuse of the terms "reverse discrimination" and "quota." She said, "I reject them as shibboleths that have hobbled us for too long in the fight for equal opportunity."

25 Years and No Regulation

She noted that it had been 25 years since the Fair Housing Act had become law, and HUD had yet to issue regulations. She said this would end, and she had established an office to set rules and legal standards - for fair housing.

She told participants the Executive Order commits the Federal Government to affirmative implementation of fair housing laws and will provide billions of dollars to promote fair housing. Clinton's order establishes a Fair Housing Council to "pilot new ways for the Government to address the problems of racial separation in America." She reported on another plan for "democratizing data" to make data more accessible and useful to all.