This week, Bridge Magazine reported that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent a letter in April to Oakland County officials, accusing them of engaging in housing policies that fuel segregation.
The 20-page letter says that because Oakland County spends more of its HUD dollars helping homeowners than renters, it is favoring white residents - who own their own homes at almost double the rate of African Americans.
For its part, the county vehemently denies that this is about racism. But beyond the specific accusations here, this story raises, again, long-standing concerns about how we live, together, in this region, and the ways in which past and present policy inform the racial imbalances we see around issues like housing.
A representative from the office of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson was asked to join Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson. They declined, but sent a long statement explaining where they stand on this issue.
You can read that statement here:
They speak with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about how the county spends its HUD dollars, and whether race and racism play a role.
Wilkinson says the issue comes down to “the implementation of two programs of HUD.”
Each year, Oakland County receives around seven-million-dollars from HUD which is distributed across the county.
“(HUD) say that the policies as constructed, as Oakland County acknowledges, favor homeowners,” explains Wilkinson.
In Oakland County, 76% of African Americans are renters and only 40% of white residents rent.
From HUD’s point of view, “the construction of those policies are leading to this discriminatory practice,” says Wilkinson.
Click on the audio player above for the full conversation.