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Orfield Discusses Fair Housing Commission Report on NPR

DECEMBER 12, 2008—Myron Orfield, the University of Minnesota Law School's Julius E. Davis Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Institute on Race & Poverty, appeared on National Public Radio's Tell Me More segment on Dec. 9 in a program entitled "Housing Discrimination Leading to Foreclosures?"

The program featured Orfield and Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, discussing findings, implications, and recommendations of the newly issued report of the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

Orfield is a member of the Commission, which is co-chaired by Henry Cisneros and Jack Kemp, both former secretaries of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Commission is made up of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, the National Fair Housing Alliance, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

It was formed to investigate the state of fair housing on this, the 40th anniversary year since Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the "Fair Housing Act"). The Act prohibits discrimination in public and private housing markets based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.

The Commission's "Executive Summary of the Future of Fair Housing" indicates that unfair housing practices continue across the country. Furthermore, they might be contributing to the ongoing foreclosure crisis.

"Housing segregation not only hurts black and Latino and Asian families very badly," Orfield said, "but it also hurts communities." Unfair housing practices involve steering black and Latino families toward certain neighborhoods as well as steering white families away from them. "Over time, prices decline and black and Latino families lose their equity," Orfield said.

Both Orfield and Henderson endorse the Commission's recommendation that an independent fair housing enforcement agency be created to replace the existing enforcement structure at HUD. "Fair housing is a serious problem that demands a strong agency of its own," Orfield said.

Members of the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
From left: John Lancaster, Pat Vredevoogd Combs, Myron Orfield, Wade Henderson, Henry Cisneros, Gordon Quan, Okianer Christian Dark

Portrait of Myron Orfield

Prof. Myron Orfield
Director, Institute on Race and Poverty


Executive Summary from the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (PDF)