On August 29, 2014, the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a report calling on the United States government to take further steps to address housing discrimination in the nation.
The report, which was based on submissions that the U.S. government made to the panel in August 2014, looked at a number of areas of concern in addition to housing discrimination and segregation, including racial profiling and illegal surveillance by police, hate speech, disparities in education and health care, voting rights, environmental justice, voting rights, the criminalization of homelessness, violence against women, and immigrants rights.
Regarding housing discrimination, the Committee acknowledged some positive steps “to address discrimination in access to housing and to reverse historical patterns of segregation.” However, the Committee noted that it remained concerned at
(a) the persistence of discrimination in access to housing on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity or national origin; (b) the high degree of racial segregation and concentrated poverty in neighbourhoods characterized by sub-standard conditions and services, including poor housing conditions, limited employment opportunities, inadequate access to health-care facilities, under-resourced schools and high exposure to crime and violence; and (c) discriminatory mortgage lending practices and the foreclosure crisis which disproportionately affected and continues to affect racial and ethnic minorities (arts. 3 and 5(e)).
To address these concerns, the UN panel urged the U.S. to “intensify its efforts to eliminate discrimination in access to housing and residential segregation based on race, colour, ethnicity or national origin” by
(a) Ensuring the availability of affordable and adequate housing for all, including by effectively implementing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing requirement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and across all agencies administering housing programmes;
(b) Strengthening the implementation of legislation to combat discrimination in housing, such as the Fair Housing Act and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, including through the provision of adequate resources and increasing the capacity of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and
(c) Undertaking prompt, independent and thorough investigation into all cases of discriminatory practices by private actors, including in relation to discriminatory mortgage lending practices, steering, and redlining; holding those responsible to account; and providing effective remedies, including appropriate compensation, guarantees of non-repetition and changes in relevant laws and practices.
Click here to read the full Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s report.