HUD Secretary Julian Castro touts new planning rules for affordable housing

Development National News Urbanism
Today local officials cut the ribbon on phase two of the Park Boulevard housing development, adding 128 units to the mixed-income community in Bronzeville. (Kathryn Quinn Architects)

Today local officials cut the ribbon on phase two of the Park Boulevard housing development, adding 128 units to the mixed-income community in Bronzeville. (Kathryn Quinn Architects)

U.S. Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visited Chicago today to announce a clarification to the 1968 Fair Housing Act that officials say will improve access to affordable housing in cities across the country.

HUD finalized a bureaucratic rule that Castro says will correct shortcomings in the federal agency’s provision of fair housing. The 1968 law, part of the Civil Rights bill, obligates HUD and its local affiliates to “affirmatively further fair housing,” a lofty goal that “has not been as effective as originally envisioned,” according to the new HUD rule.

“This represents a new partnership with cities,” said Secretary Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas.

Standing in front of Chicago’s newly expanded Park Boulevard—the mixed-income housing development was formerly Stateway Gardens, part of the corridor of South Side housing projects that included Robert Taylor Homes—Castro said the new rule will make publicly available data and mapping tools to help community members and local leaders establish local goals for the development fair housing. He added that Chicago had already used the newly available data for a preliminary exercise linking affordable housing and transit planning.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro announces new Fair Housing rules at a press conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Acting CEO of Chicago Housing Authority Eugene Jones, speaking here, and others at the new Park Boulevard units at 3720 S Dearborn Street. (Will Nunnally)

Acting CEO of Chicago Housing Authority Eugene Jones thanks HUD Secretary Julian Castro for announcing new Fair Housing rules at a press conference with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others at the new Park Boulevard units at 3720 S. Dearborn Street. (Will Nunnally)

The change also allows local housing agencies more time and flexibility in presenting their fair housing priorities and goals to the federal government.

Castro referenced a recent Harvard study that found kids from low-income neighborhoods were statistically less likely than their wealthier counterparts to achieve upward mobility.

“A zip code should never prevent anyone from reaching their greater aspirations,” said Castro.

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