Numerous laws protect people from discrimination when they're searching for a home. But many areas across North Texas and around the country still struggle with patterns of housing inequities and segregation.
Myriam Igoufe is a doctoral graduate in urban planning at the University of Texas at Arlington. She's also the project manager for a comprehensive new study for the North Texas Regional Housing Assessment, and she joined us to discuss North Texas' lingering housing inequities.
On what the study examined:
The assessment is template driven, so the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gives us data and a list of questions to be answered. Some of those big fair housing issues were segregation, patterns of poverty concentration, disparities in the accessing of opportunities, school, transportation and healthy neighborhoods.
We have used the HUD data as well supplemental data that we put together to really dive into some of those inequities.
On how the data was gathered:
We have spent most of our resources in communities talking to groups, actually. We consulted with organizations and elected officials to discover some of the barriers we are facing.
The data has been contextualized through public engagement, and we have learned most of the issues through consultation.
On Dallas' high rate of housing problems:
The great thing about this assessment: It's very comprehensive. It will look at a lot of different issues, but also a lot of different scopes for those issues. So, we first looked at what is happening originally and what is happening in each jurisdiction.
Ultimately, there are a lot of imbalances between the city of Dallas and the region. The city of Dallas has a disproportionately higher number on non-white folks and poorer households.
Those imbalances result in greater issues within the city of Dallas because of the demographics.
On the kinds of issues Dallas is experiencing:
We have a very stark geographic area of inequity. Not only are some neighborhoods facing a higher rate of racial segregation, but they're also facing economic segregation, lesser access to affordable transportation options, lower performing schools.
There are a lot of cumulative obstacles residing in one given neighborhood.
I think they are in a very tough place, where they don't really have the tools or the amenities to actually lift themselves out of poverty. But I think it is very important for us to document some of these issues, so we can get past stereotypes associated with being in poverty, with living in segregated neighborhoods. I don't think anybody makes a choice.
On why housing problems linger despite laws and efforts:
We have conflicting public policies. We still have laws that are enabling segregation, such as the ability of landlords to refuse vouchers. We have to have very uneqvuivocal and intentional efforts to desegregate.
It's very disheartening, because we are spending tremendous amount of dollars on efforts, and yet behind those beautiful maps that we've put together, we have families skipping meals.
This is very, very disheartening. We have to understand the level of distress that those families are facing. It is our responsibility as receipents of federal dollars, but also as a society, to make sure that this is no longer the status quo that defines our city or our region.
Myriam Igoufe is a project manager for the North Texas Regional Housing Assessment.