Fair Housing Task Force discusses challenges related to integration, segregation

Fair Housing Task Force discusses challenges related to integration and segregation

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia's Fair Housing Task Force met Monday evening to discuss the issues and challenges that the members may face in the coming months.

This is the second time the task force has come together since the city council approved its creation in February. Its goal is to come up with ways to prevent housing discrimination in Columbia.

According to Randy Cole, the city's Housing Programs Manager, the plan for Monday was to review and analyze fair housing concerns as they related to segregation/integration and racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty.

More than a dozen members were given an overview of six maps that illustrated data as it relates to things like housing affordability and demographics.

2 of the maps were directly from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Fair Housing Mapping Tool. The other 4 were created by the city's Geographic Information System (GIS) staff.

Cole said they were required by the federal government to update this data every five years.

"Last time we did it was in 2014," said Cole. "Last time it wasn't as robust."

Members split into several groups and analyzed each of the maps for several minutes at a time, and then came together to discuss the conclusions they drew from them and the possible fair housing challenges that they posed.

One member, the pastor of the Wilkes Blvd. Methodist Church, said that the things the map showed, like the differences between the southwest part of town and the northeast, were not shocking. Instead, they were stark.

"The dividing lines in Columbia are still strong and still very much in place," said Brad Bryan. "And still moving a large portion of our minority populations out towards the edges of town, especially north."

As housing becomes less affordable in the central city area, minority groups are being pushed toward the edges of town, specifically the north side off Rangeline Street, where jobs are fewer and public transit is not as readily available.

"Everything gets harder when you move that population further away from the city center," said Bryan.

According to its work plan, the task force should have a report with recommendations drawn up and ready to present to council by at least next March.

At its meeting in September, the task force will discuss data that relates to disparities in access to opportunity and disproportionate housing needs. 

Here is a link to the maps. Click on the PDF file for the Aug. 27 meeting and it will bring you to the agenda, which has a link to all the maps.

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