The real cost of federal housing initiatives

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Robert Knight - Guest Columnist

Knight, Robert (ACRU)Data-driven race obsession is coming to your neighborhood - compliments of Mr. Obama's intent on "fundamentally transforming" America.

Don't look now, but a government agent with an iPad soon may be rooting around in your community, collecting racial data, plus how close your home is to a supermarket, school or bus stop.

When Barack Obama proclaimed that he was intent on "fundamentally transforming" America, you probably didn't think he was going to use the federal government to mess with your neighborhood, did you? I did, but that's water under the bridge.

When government gets its hands on information that it can use to justify otherwise unlawful interference into people's lives, it opens the door to tyranny.

If you, regardless of race or ethnic origin, worked hard to move to a safe neighborhood with good schools and nearby shopping, too bad. If the numbers are not to the government's liking, your community needs to have subsidized housing projects in the name of fairness and racial quotas. Everything in President Obama's America must be subordinate to race.

Meanwhile, jurisdictions across America that accept even a dime of federal housing money will have to submit five-year plans toward achieving racial targets set by Washington.

It's part of a massive scheme by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called Affirmatively Affirming Fair Housing (AAFH). The new "rule" was published on July 16.

The Rule (let's keep it simple) is a citizen's nightmare and a bureaucrat's dream. With more than 100 pages in the Federal Register's Rules and Regulations section, it's loaded with repetitive rhetoric, bureaucratic gobbledygook, threats for noncompliance and enough acronyms to fill a stadium-sized bowl of alphabet soup.

Its obvious goal is to create the grounds for a nationwide affirmative action program not just for housing but for all sorts of community amenities, and to affirm the progressives' accusation that America is hopelessly mired in racism.

As proof of America's need for HUD's intervention, the agency states that, "Of the nearly 3,800 census tracts in this country where more than 40 percent of the population is below the poverty line, about 3,000 (78 percent) are also predominantly minority."

Virtually all of these areas have been under Democratic Party control since the 1960s and the advent of the Great Society, with its family-destroying federal welfare programs. Do we really want HUD to give the entire country a taste of what these poor people in the inner cities have been getting?

HUD estimates the cost of compliance nationally as merely $25 million for recipients and another $9 million for HUD to review it. The Rule absurdly predicts that, "the proposed rule will have relatively limited additional paperwork and planning costs."

Sure it will. It took me a few hours just to skim the proposed "rule" and the final version, and I wasn't trying to figure out how to comply with the regulations. That would take days, weeks, months.

Just as some lawyers purposely write legislation so verbose that it guarantees work for other lawyers, HUD's bureaucratic authors have served up a monstrosity that will necessitate hiring thousands of consultants and new government employees.

But cost aside, the push to collect racially charged data is a huge threat to Americans' liberty, regardless of race.

On July 15, Hoover Institution scholar Paul Sperry wrote a New York Post article, "Obama Collecting Personal Data for a Secret Race Database" profiling not only the HUD initiative but several other intrusive data hunts by the administration.

Calling the HUD database "the granddaddy" of them all, Mr. Sperry wrote: "Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama's racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school – all to document 'inequalities' between minorities and whites."

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is creating a National Mortgage Database Project to collect 16 years of lending data around a racial parameter.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is assembling a database of 900 million credit card accounts, classified by race.

The Department of Education is compiling a Civil Rights Data project to tally up suspensions and expulsions in every school district based on race.

Predictably, the left-leaning Snopes anti-urban-myth website attacked the article, but could not refute Mr. Sperry's assertions about the government's massive data collection.

So the data mining is really happening on an unprecedented scale to advance Mr. Obama's race-obsessed agenda.

When government gets its hands on information that it can use to justify otherwise unlawful interference into people's lives, it opens the door to tyranny.

In 1974, federal District Judge Arthur W. Garrity touched off decades of havoc when he took over Boston's public school system and ordered racial balancing. He ordered students bused from the Irish blue collar neighborhood of South Boston into the black neighborhood of Roxbury, and vice versa. This did not promote racial harmony or better education, just violence.

Parents moved thousands of students out of the system, and the rest endured a racially charged atmosphere for years. In 1985, the judge-turned-school-czar transferred authority back to local officials. In 1999, the School Board voted to end the use of race as a factor in placing children in schools. By then, whites constituted only 15 percent of the school population.

The HUD plan along with the other data mining is the Left's ammo dump for launching a Garrity-style assault on the entire nation.

Mr. Obama came into office billed as a racial "healer," but he's done everything imaginable to escalate racial conflict.

Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union. This column first appeared in The Washington Times.

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