That Didn’t Take Long

Although I just published my thoughts on what Dr. Ben Carson’s confirmation hearings might tell us about his leadership of HUD, it’s become clear that what Carson himself might like to do will be of relatively little consequence.

Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona introduced a bill with the Orwellian title “Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act.” As one might guess, the local zoning decisions being protected are not those about density, or mixed-use development, or lot setbacks. The decisions in question are those local zoning decisions that operate in an exclusionary manner to prevent poor or minority Americans from living in a particular local jurisdiction. These are common and often horrifyingly inventive, but were effectively challenged by a lawsuit against the state of Texas and a number of Texas cities that was upheld by a narrow (and cautiously argued) Supreme Court decision rendered when the court had nine members. The decision also coincided with the Obama administration’s invocation of the original language of legislation creating HUD to set agency rules requiring HUD and cooperating local jurisdictions to “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.” When it is inevitably passed on party lines and signed into law by President Trump, that rule will be nullified.

Just in case the intent of the bill wasn’t clear, a separate section declares

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be used to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing.

There’s no way of solving a problem quite like making it impossible to measure. As we all know, under the Big Data revolution, if something isn’t quantified, like racism, it doesn’t really exist. The only thing better than “alternative facts” are no facts at all.

UPDATE Watch out, American Community Survey.


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