EHI issues advisory to minority group representatives on importance 
of monitoring local zoning and planning activities



Housing opportunities for minority group members often are greatly restricted by regulatory barriers to affordable housing, most of them imposed by local governments. Even where local politicians favor more affordable housing, and even where they may have enacted numerous affordable housing programs, local planning, zoning, and housing policies can result in less affordable housing overall. This is especially true in suburban areas, where most jobs now are located, and where most new jobs are being created.



Minority groups cannot rely on Fair Housing statutes and enforcement programs to eliminate those regulatory barriers generally. That is because those barriers result from facially neutral regulations and policies that tend to discriminate against all low- and moderate-income people, regardless of race, national origin, etc. Such discrimination generally has not been prohibited by American law. However, it has a much greater impact on minority groups than on the overall population.



To the extent possible, minority group representatives should be aware of -- and involved in – local planning, zoning and housing proceedings that may affect their members. EHI distributed a memorandum to minority group representatives in the Washington metropolitan area in September 2011, detailing: 

  • how regulatory barriers restrict housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income people generally;
  • how those barriers impact minority groups disproportionately; and
  • how minority groups may get more deeply involved in shaping housing-related regulation in their local communities.

EHI Advisory Committee member Thomas B. Reston, former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), was instrumental in providing EHI with contacts among representatives of Latino groups. EHI's advisory was based on an excellent report by law clerk Vivianette Velazquez (American Univ., Washington College of Law, Class of 2013),