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Fair Housing forum

About 20 interested citizens came to the Council Chamber at 7 p.m. Monday for the first of three forums on fair housing in Fresno.


To be precise, the event was called the “2016 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice.” The shorthand title is simply “AI” – for Analysis of Impediments.

The city’s Housing and Community Development Division hosted things. There are two more forums (3 p.m., 6 p.m.) are slated for Tuesday at the West Fresno Resource Center, 1802 E. California Ave.

The backstory here is extensive. It’s enough for now to note that the federal Housing and Urban Development Department unveiled last year its final rules for the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing initiative.

At the heart of everything is a basic principle of the American Experiment: All people should have a fair and equal chance to live where they wish.

But what does that mean in practice? After all, we’re a nation built on liberty as well as equality. Take away the former and the latter loses its value.

Fresno will get answers to these questions and more once it completes the “AI” report.

Monday evening’s 75-minute meeting was a taste of what’s ahead.

Robert Gaudin, director of Research and Planning at Western Economic Services in Portland, Oregon, was the forum’s moderator. The “AI” report and Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing initiative are a lot to grasp.

I give you five points that I took from Gaudin’s Power Point presentation to whet your appetite. There will much more in the coming years.

  • Fresno doesn’t get its yearly HUD funds such as Community Development Block Grants until it does the “AI” report.
  • Westchester County in New York didn’t do enough to implement Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, and paid dearly (money and independence) for getting on the feds’ bad side.
  • Protected classes under state and federal law are tied to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income and disability.
  • Some residential neighborhoods in Fresno have more life-enhancing assets than others (Monday’s forum did not dig into the nature of these assets or where they come from).
  • The geographic distribution of all the various gradations of all the protected classes listed in No. 3 almost certainly violates the letter and the spirit of the entire Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing initiative.

Gaudin left no doubt that No. 5 is going to get fixed. He didn’t say if it would be with a carrot or a stick.

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