View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 17, 1994

January 17, 1994


Subject: Federal Leadership of Fair Housing

On April 11, 1968, one week after the assassination of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., the Fair Housing Act was enacted (1) to prohibit discrimination in housing, and (2) to direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to affirmatively further fair housing in Federal housing and urban development programs. Twenty-five years later, despite a strengthening of the Fair Housing Act 5 years ago, hundreds of acts of housing discrimination occur in our Nation each day.

Americans of every income level, seeking to live where they choose, feel the weight of discrimination because of the color of their skin, their race, their religion, their gender, their country of origin, or because they are disabled or have children.

An increasing body of evidence indicates that barriers to fair housing are pervasive. Forty percent of all families move every 5 years. This statistic is significant given the results of a recent study, commissioned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which found that more than half of the African Americans and Latinos seeking to rent or buy a home are treated differently than whites with the same qualifications. Moreover, based upon Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, the number of minority persons who are rejected when attempting to obtain loans to purchase homes is two to three times higher than it is for nonminorities in almost every metropolitan area of this country.

Racial and ethnic segregation, both in the private housing market and in public and assisted housing, has been well documented. Despite legislation (the Fair Housing Act) and Executive action (Executive Order No. 11063), the divisive impact of housing segregation persists in metropolitan areas all across this country. Too many lower income and minority Americans face barriers to housing outside of central cities. Segregation in housing and schools deprives too many of our children and youth of an opportunity to enter the marketplace or work on an equal footing. For too many families, our cities are no longer the launching pads for economic self-sufficiency and upward mobility that they have been for countless immigrants and minorities since the country's birth. And many Americans who are better off abandon the cities.


The resulting decline in the very heart of too many of our metropolitan areas threatens all of us: the health of our dynamic regional economies -- the very lifeblood of future national economic growth and higher living standards for all of us and all of our children -- is placed at risk.

We can do better. We can start by making sure that our own Federal policies and programs across all of our agencies support the fair housing and equal opportunity goals to which all Americans are committed. If all of our executive agencies affirmatively further fair housing in the design of their policies and administration of their programs relating to housing and urban development, a truly nondiscriminatory housing market will be closer to achievement.

By an Executive Order ("the Order") I am issuing today and this memorandum, I am addressing those needs. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and, where appropriate, the Attorney General -- the officials with the primary responsibility for the enforcement of Federal fair housing laws -- will take the lead in developing and coordinating measures to carry out the purposes of this Order.

Through this Order, I am first expanding Executive Order No. 11063 to provide protection against discrimination in programs of Federal insurance or guaranty to persons who are disabled and to families with children.

Second, I am revoking the old Executive Order No. 12259 entitled "Leadership and Coordination of Fair Housing in Federal Programs." The new Executive order reflects the expanded authority of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and I am directing him to take stronger measures to provide leadership and coordination in affirmatively furthering fair housing in Federal programs.

Third, I ask the heads of departments and agencies, including the Federal banking agencies, to cooperate with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in identifying ways to structure agency programs and activities to affirmatively further fair housing and to promptly negotiate memoranda of understanding with him to accomplish that goal.

Further, I direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to review all of HUD's programs to assure that they truly provide equal opportunity and promote economic self-sufficiency for those who are beneficiaries and recipients of those programs.

I also direct the Secretary to review HUD's programs to assure that they contain the maximum incentives to affirmatively further fair housing and to eliminate barriers to free choice where they continue to exist. This review shall include Federally assisted housing, Federally insured housing and other housing and housing related programs, including those of the Government National Mortgage Association and the Federal Housing Administration.

Today, I am establishing a new Cabinet-level organization to focus the cooperative efforts of all agencies on fair housing. The President's Fair Housing Council will be chaired by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and will consist of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Interior,


the Chair of the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The President's Fair Housing Council shall review the design and delivery of Federal programs and activities to ensure that they support a coordinated strategy to affirmatively further fair housing. The Council shall propose revisions to existing programs or activities, develop pilot programs and activities, and propose new programs and activities to achieve its goals.

I direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the President's Fair Housing Council to develop a pilot program to be implemented in selected metropolitan areas. This initiative will promote fair housing choice by helping inner-city families to move to suburban neighborhoods and by making the central city more attractive to those who have left it. I direct the members of the Council to undertake a demonstration program that will reinvent the way assisted housing is offered to applicants, will break down jurisdictional barriers in housing opportunities, and will promote the use of subsidies that diminish residential segregation, and will combine these initiatives with refined educational incentives aimed at improving the effectiveness of inner-city schools. I am directing that transportation alternatives be considered along with targeted social service and job training programs as part of the support necessary to create a one-stop, metropolitan area-wide fair housing opportunity pilot program that will effectively offer Federally assisted housing, Federally insured housing, and private market housing within a metropolitan area to all residents of the area. The pilot program should call upon realtors, mortgage lenders, housing providers, and local governments, among others, to assist in expanding housing choices.

To address the findings of recent studies, I hereby direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Attorney General and, where appropriate, the heads of the Federal banking agencies to exercise national leadership to end discrimination in mortgage lending, the secondary mortgage market, and property insurance practices. The Secretary is directed to issue regulations to define discriminatory practices in these areas and the Secretary and the Attorney General are directed to aggressively enforce the laws prohibiting these practices.

In each of these areas, I direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to take the lead with the other Federal agencies in working to gain the voluntary cooperation, participation, and expertise of all of those in private industry, the States and localities who can assist in achieving the Nation's fair housing goals.

The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


# # #