HHFA "Amicus Curiae" Brief in Shelley v. Kraemer

"Racial restrictive covenants, as the core of a system of traditional real estate practices controlling the access of Negroes and other minority groups to sites and dwelling units, have affected practically every phase of public housing administration during the past thirteen years. By generally restricting these groups to sharply defined neighborhoods which provide too few houses and too little living space, these covenants have served to distort the objectives of the public housing program. The ultimate effect of covenanted land restrictions is to place the Federal agency, required as it is to clear and replace slum areas, in the position of appearing to place the stamp of governmental approval upon separate residential patterns and to render it most difficult for the agency to administer public funds in such manner as to assure equitable participation by racial groups.

"As a result, administrative problems arise to confront the agency at every stage of the program -- the programming of projects and dwelling units, determination of sites, acquisition and assembly of land, provision of project services and facilities, general project management and disposition. The processes involved not only impede the progress of the program, in many instances, but are often excessive in cost and thereby reduce the total amount of housing and facilities which might otherwise be provided with the funds available.

. . .

"The most serious distortion of planning occurs at the site selection stages at which sites offered by the local authority must be evaluated in terms of the racial composition of the prospective project occupants. In many commuities, racial minority groups are land-bound within areas restricted by the existence of racial covenants on undeveloped as well as developed areas. The result is excessive overcrowding in the slum and blighted areas with which the basic purposes of the low-rent public housing program are concerned. Repercussions upon the program are extensive. Obstacles to the location of racial minorities outside of the areas to which they are restricted necessitate site selection for developments to house such groups within these inordinately overcrowded areas. At the same time, the excessive overcrowding tends to increase the cost of the land. Moreover, there is a danger of inceasing the density of other restricted and overcrowded areas which must absorb the racial minority group families temporarily or permanently displaced from similar areas by public housing developments. In many cases, alternative housing cannot be provided at all without demolition of units already occupied and desperately needed as the only shelter available to the racial minority groups.

. . .

"When open sites are sought or used under such circumstances as the need for lower cost land, revealting the congestion of the slum areas, avoiding displacement of more units than the program can replace under acceptable density standards, or the requirements of the war housing program, objections to use of such sites for housing to which racial minorities will be admitted are frequently obstructive and sometimes prohibitive."

(Statement of Raymond M. Foley, Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, cited in Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae in the Supreme Court of the United States, op. cit., pp. 5-8).


Source: Robert C. Weaver, The Negro Ghetto (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1948), 177n.


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