Housing regulations aimed at diversifying wealthy neighborhoods, which some are calling executive overreach for the purpose of establishing a utopia, are expected to be released by the Obama administration this month.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will release the rules with the aim of ending segregation in neighborhoods around the country, The Hill
HUD plans to offer grant money to communities willing to build affordable housing within affluent neighborhoods. On the flip side, the federal agency will also give money to poorer neighborhoods to improve those communities through better schools, parks, libraries and grocery stores.
"HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all," a HUD spokeswoman told The Hill. "The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds."
The regulations are a continuation of a rule made by the Obama administration
in 2013, in which HUD started gathering data about diversity in neighborhoods around the country for the purpose of making such policy changes.
The new regulation has its share of critics, especially among conservatives.
Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who is working to block the rule, said that the Obama administration "shouldn’t be holding hostage grant monies aimed at community improvement based on its unrealistic utopian ideas of what every community should resemble."
"American citizens and communities should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to federal neighborhood engineering at the behest of an overreaching federal government," Gosar told The Hill.
The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky said the rule is "too race conscious."
"It’s a sign that this administration seems to take race into account on everything," Spakovsky told The Hill.
The plan has plenty of advocates among civil rights groups, who say it will help break down barriers that make upward mobility difficult for those in poor, rundown neighborhoods.
"We have a history of putting affordable housing in poor communities," Debby Goldberg, vice president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, told The Hill.
Advocates hope that the rule will help break down subtle forms of discrimination that exist on the local level.
"In our country, decades of public policies and institutional practices have built deeply segregated and unequal neighborhoods," Margery Turner of the Urban Institute also told The Hill.
"This rule is not about forcing anyone to live anywhere they don’t want to. It’s really about addressing long-standing practices that prevent people from living where they want to," Turner said.
"Segregation is clearly a problem that is blocking upward mobility for children growing up today," she added.
Gosar told The Hill that the rule gives HUD power over zoning laws, allowing the agency to declare what types of homes may be built where and who gets to live in them.
In addition, it could also hurt property values and add more minorities to communities that lean Republican, Gosar said.
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