Supreme Court decision upholds key part of housing act

Mississippi Public Broadcasting
Evelina Burnett
Mississippi housing advocates are cheering a Supreme Court decision last week that they say upholds a crucial part of the more than 45-year-old Fair Housing Act. MPB’s Evelina Burnett has more.

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The decision last Thursday upheld a piece of the Fair Housing Act called disparate impact analysis. It essentially means that it doesn’t matter what the intent of housing policies are – what matters is the outcome.

As John Jopling with the Mississippi Center for Justice explains, in the case before the court, a non-profit in Texas argued low-income housing tax credits were mostly being used in low-income neighborhoods, rather than in more affluent areas – areas that usually have better schools, jobs and so on.

“The outcome is a preservation of segregated housing patterns and a limitation for low and moderate income people to live in communities where they would have greater opportunity,” he says.

The Mississippi Home Corporation allocates housing tax credits in Mississippi. Scott Spivey, the group’s executive director, says it’s not clear yet what the impact of the decision will be here – but it does show that location matters when it comes to affordable housing.

“There are two sides of that argument,” he explains. “One is high opportunity areas that have good schools, and they’re more walkable and things like that. But the other is that housing is a big economic engine in the state, and it’s a wonderful tool for revitalization of existing neighborhoods that need help.”

This year, Mississippi Home Corp. awarded $6.7 million dollars in tax credits to fund 11 developments around the state.