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Murray: “Here in Congress, we should be clearing pathways for more Americans to access to fair housing – not blocking the way.”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor in opposition to an amendment to the FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill that would block efforts to help root out discrimination and segregation in housing. The rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that Republicans have attacked is designed to help states and local governments that receive federal funding proactively eliminate housing segregation and discrimination, a key civil rights component of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. In her remarks, Murray strongly denounced this amendment and highlighted a pilot program in Seattle that has demonstrated how the new HUD rule could help promote equality in housing across the country.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“In our country we need to do everything we can to make sure families have options when it comes to finding a place to live. And they need access to affordable, safe, and fair housing. Unfortunately, today, Republicans want to deal a significant blow to fair housing. The amendment they are offering would tear down the civil rights protections in the Fair Housing Act of 1968. And I strongly urge my colleagues to vote against it.”

“Last year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development – also known as HUD – issued a long-overdue rule to help carry out that mission to proactively eliminate housing segregation and discrimination. For states and local governments that get HUD investments, this rule would improve the quality and the access to data on demographics.  It would help researchers analyze the barriers that people face to access fair housing.  And it would help set priorities and goals for carrying out the mission to actively fight back against discrimination and segregation. Based on pilot programs from around the country, we know that this rule can help expand opportunity to more Americans.”

“One of those pilots was in Seattle, in my home state of Washington. After an assessment of high-poverty areas in Puget Sound, the city saw that neighborhoods that historically have been disenfranchised lacked job opportunities. Armed with that data, the city set up a food distribution center and a job incubator in these neighborhoods. The city’s work helped foster job growth in the places where low-income residents live. And through that work, the city expanded economic security to more people. This wouldn’t have been possible without the data that this long overdue rule provides us." 

“This is the kind of success that this new rule will help further. But Republicans want to put a stop those positive changes. And they’d rather backtrack on the gains we’ve made on civil rights in housing. That’s unacceptable. Here in Congress, we should be clearing pathways for more Americans to access to fair housing – not blocking the way. I urge my colleagues to vote against the amendment.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you, M. President.

“A home is more than just a roof over someone’s head. It’s where families build their lives.

“In our country we need to do everything we can to make sure families have options when it comes to finding a place to live.

“And they need access to affordable, safe, and fair housing.

“Unfortunately, today, Republicans want to deal a significant blow to fair housing.

“The amendment they are offering would tear down the civil rights protections in the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

“And I strongly urge my colleagues to vote against it.

“M. President, before the Civil Rights Movement, African-Americans faced an enormous amount of injustice and racism in housing. 

“People of color were often relegated to sub-standard housing.

“They were denied mortgages.

“And rent in an African-American neighborhood was often higher than rent in a white neighborhood, even though the apartments were smaller and more run-down.

“The Fair Housing Act went into effect in 1968, and it banned discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.

“But it also went a step further.

“A new federal housing agency was charged with proactively rooting out discrimination and segregation in communities across the country.

“That’s an important part of the law.

“Because today, people across the country still face systemic, and sometimes, racially motivated barriers to housing.

“People with disabilities, people of color, families with children, and religious groups in many areas have limited housing choices.

“Last year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development – also known as HUD – issued a long-overdue rule to help carry out that mission to proactively eliminate housing segregation and discrimination.

“For states and local governments that get HUD investments, this rule would improve the quality and the access to data on demographics.

“It would help researchers analyze the barriers that people face to access fair housing.

“And it would help set priorities and goals for carrying out the mission to actively fight back against discrimination and segregation.

“Based on pilot programs from around the country, we know that this rule can help expand opportunity to more Americans.

“One of those pilots was in Seattle, in my home state of Washington.

“After an assessment of high-poverty areas in Puget Sound, the city saw that neighborhoods that historically have been disenfranchised lacked job opportunities.

“Armed with that data, the city is setting up a food distribution center and a job incubator in these neighborhoods.

“The city’s work is helping to foster job growth in the places where low-income residents live.

“And through that work, the city expanded economic security to more people.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the data that this long overdue rule provides us.

“This is the kind of success that this new rule will help further.

“But Republicans want to put a stop those positive changes.

“And they’d rather backtrack on the gains we’ve made on civil rights in housing.

“That’s unacceptable.

“Here in Congress, we should be clearing pathways for more Americans to access to fair housing – not blocking the way.

“I urge my colleagues to vote against the amendment.

“Thank you, M. President.”

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