North Texas emerges as ground zero in newly energized fight against racial housing segregation

North Texas is becoming ground zero in the fight against residential racial segregation.  This thanks to the experienced and increasingly aggressive advocacy of civil rights attorney Michael Daniel and Inclusive Communities Project director Betsy Julian.

Consider what these two, who share offices in downtown Dallas, have done in recent weeks:

  1. Filed a federal lawsuit against the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs alleging fair housing violations in the operation of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in Dallas;
  2. Struck an agreement with the up-scale Dallas suburb of Frisco to accept future Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments;
  3. Filed suit against affluent North Dallas suburbs of Flower Mound and McKinney for failing to participate in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

The rapidity and scope of these desegregation actions have drawn national attention to a fight that has lost national momentum in recent years.

The national focus of fair housing used to be on Chicago.  Public housing desegregation and the Gautreaux program that sought to relocate Section 8 tenants from segregated inner city neighborhoods are the legacies of that effort.

Daniel and Julian are focusing on opening up the Dallas suburbs, and particularly the fast growing outer ring of suburbs to lower income African-American households through a combination of the Section 8 and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs.

Julian heads a nonprofit organization that works to place inner city Dallas Section 8 housing voucher holders in the suburbs and to support them as they integrate these formerly all white communities.  The program is a legacy of Daniel’s lawsuit against the City of Dallas and the Dallas Housing Authority for racially segregating publicly housing in Dallas.  Julian came to her current job from her role as Mike Daniel’s law partner with an intervening stint as Assistance Secretary for Fair Housing of HUD under President Clinton.

A while back I did an extensive interview with Julian about her approach to Fair Housing.