Blacks Favored in Public Housing, U.S. Says

Patrick Hodge, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 3

Suggesting that Berkeley’s public housing program unfairly favors African Americans, federal officials are urging the city to recruit people of other races and, specifically, UC Berkeley students.

The recommendations—some of which Berkeley officials have criticized—stem from a routine fair-housing compliance review conducted in July by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Berkeley Housing Director Stephen Barton said he was stunned’ when he got the Oct. 13 letter of preliminary findings from HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity recommending, among other things, that the city recruit UC Berkeley students.

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In its letter to the city, Hauptman’s office pointed out that while the 2000 census showed 15.7 percent of Berkeley’s low-income population was African American, 74.2 percent of the people getting Section 8 rent vouchers and 87 percent of tenants in city-owned rental units were African American.

By comparison, Asians were 30.5 percent of the city’s low-income population but 3 percent of the Section 8 recipients, and whites were 41.5 percent of the city’s poor but 22 percent of the voucher recipients.

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If HUD rejects the city’s arguments, it will have to buckle under, Barton said.

He said that in the past HUD has criticized residency preferences used by predominantly white suburban jurisdictions trying to exclude blacks.

“To have HUD come to us and say, ‘You’re serving too many African Americans’ is exactly the opposite of the historical purpose of the equal opportunity review,” Barton said.

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