Los Angeles, CA (October 1, 2018)—The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) has sent a four-page letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development commenting on HUD’s efforts to scale back Fair Housing rules implemented in 2015 under President Obama.
The rules, known formally as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), are designed to improve enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which became law in 1968. In its comments, LAHSA draws a strong connection between the negative impacts of segregation and the increased likelihood of a person falling into homelessness.
“Both in Los Angeles and nationwide, policies like AFFH help us understand the link between housing, segregations, and subsequent homelessness. Fair housing laws have a potential effect on the future of homelessness as housing costs continue to rise, resulting in disproportionate displacement of vulnerable populations.” The letter also notes: “To date, only a small number of Black and Latinx Americans have had (the) opportunity to move into more opportunity-rich neighborhoods.”
The 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count vividly demonstrates the disproportionate racial makeup of the population experiencing homelessness. Although African-Americans constitute only 9 percent of the population of Los Angeles County, they make up 36 percent of the people experiencing homelessness.
Nationally, Black and African-American youth have an 83 percent higher risk of experiencing homelessness than other youth and Latinx youth have a 33 percent higher risk.
In the letter, LAHSA characterizes AFFH “as an essential part of good housing policy.” LAHSA supports AFFH’s requirements for an analysis—using objective data—of impediments to fair housing choice but said the requirements “should be revised and improved rather than scaled back or removed.”
While LAHSA supports local jurisdictions providing their own experiences or data in these assessments, they should be in supplement to required elements rather than substituting for required elements.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is a joint powers authority of the city and county of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address the problem of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages over $300 million annually in federal, state, county, and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing, and services to people experiencing homelessness. For more information visit www.lahsa.org.