Using Data to Promote Fair Housing in the San Joaquin Valley

by Maya Abood, Community Development Specialist, California Coalition for Rural Housing, Sacramento, CA

May, 2015

A March 2014 meeting organized by the California Coalition for Rural Housing.

A March 2014 meeting organized by the California Coalition for Rural Housing.

When the U.S. Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968, the goal was clear: protect home buyers and renters from unjust discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Yet, now, nearly 50 years later, racial and economic segregation remain entrenched at the local, regional, state, and national level.

Across the country, low-income communities of color have limited access to jobs, transit, and high-performing schools due to the ongoing legacy of redlining, housing discrimination, and systemic divestment from their communities.

In 2014, a total of 14 cities and dozens of community organizations in California’s San Joaquin Valley conducted an investigation into housing opportunity and racial segregation in the eight-county region. The resulting report, known as a Fair Housing and Equity Assessment (FHEA), was required by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant and reflected new federal regulations designed to affirmatively furthering fair housing.

The Center for Regional Change’s Regional Opportunity Index (ROI) provided the perfect platform to discuss spatial equity and analyze access to opportunity. Grant partners throughout the region used the online mapping tool during community outreach sessions, and analyzed the data as part of the final report submitted to HUD.

Many of the jurisdictions in this region are now using data from the FHEA and the ROI to develop their state-mandated housing elements, and to plan for more equitable, diverse and inclusive neighborhoods. The California Department of Housing and Community Development recently drew attention to the report, issuing a notice, encouraging local governments to proactively address the disparities that it highlights.

Maya Abood is originally from Stockton, California, where she first became interested in rural issues in the San Joaquin Valley. During her professional career, she has worked on a variety of local, regional, and state campaigns, on issues ranging from housing and community development, to public health and agriculture. She currently serves as the Housing and Community Development Specialist for California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH). In her free time, Maya enjoys traveling, cooking, and learning new languages.

Learn more about the work of the CCRH at http://www.calruralhousing.org/