It’s been 50 years since the passing of the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights–era law that promised to end housing discrimination. But segregation persists, especially for black Americans; about half of all black people live in neighborhoods without any white people. Baltimore, however, may have found a solution.
In most U.S. metro areas, Baltimore included, blacks live in the city and whites live in the suburbs. This divide is due, in part, to discriminatory practices started in the 1930s that gave whites a government-assisted push to the suburbs, while they starved black inner-city neighborhoods of investment.
To combat this entrenched segregation, the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program issues rental subsidies to help families relocate to wealthy, integrated neighborhoods. The program also offers counseling, as well as transportation and security deposit assistance.
And it actually works. Recipients move from areas that are 80 percent black and 33 percent poor, to areas that are 21 percent black and 8 percent poor. The effects are sustained; over two-thirds of the families remain in their new communities.
The problem is that the program only has 4,300 vouchers, and the federal government is unlikely to expand it anytime soon. And since taking office, Trump’s housing secretary, Ben Carson, has been scaling back efforts to fight discrimination.
This segment originally aired April 11, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.