Periodic report of the united states of america to the united nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination

Information on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that give effect to the provisions of Article 3, in particular

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Article 3

Information on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that give effect to the provisions of Article 3, in particular:

34. Measures to prevent, prohibit, and eradicate all practices of racial segregation. The United States condemns racial segregation and apartheid and undertakes to prevent, prohibit, and eradicate all practices of this nature. No such policies or practices are permitted, and it remains the U.S. position that such practices should be condemned and eradicated wherever found.

35. Measures to ensure proper monitoring of all trends that can give rise to racial segregation. As noted above, U.S. law reaches not only intentional discrimination but also certain facially neutral practices that may result in an unjustified disparate impact on members of a protected class. U.S. agencies, such as DOJ/CRT, the ED Office for Civil Rights (ED/OCR), the EEOC, and others, as well as state, territorial, tribal, and local agencies, monitor issues of segregation and discrimination to ensure that appropriate actions are taken under applicable law. The United States also collects census data in a manner that allows analysis by racial, ethnic, and other characteristics. Since the 2000 census, information has also been collected on Americans of Arab ancestry. Recognizing that racial segregation is a problem that in some cases has contributed to neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, the Obama Administration has initiated programs, such as the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, designed to support local communities in developing the tools needed to revitalize neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity.

36. Measures to prevent and avoid as much as possible the discrimination prohibited under the Convention, in particular in the areas of education and housing. It is of concern that, in some cases, minorities are concentrated in areas or communities that may have sub-standard living conditions and/or services, and one of the missions of civil rights laws and authorities in the United States is to ensure that such situations are not the result of discriminatory policies or practices (direct or disparate impact) related to housing, education or other areas receiving federal financial assistance.

37. With regard to paragraphs 16 and 17 of the Committee’s Concluding Observations, the causes and effects of de facto segregation and racial and ethnic disparities in housing and education, as well as in other aspects of American life, are issues of active study and concern. The United States continues its efforts to overcome not only current discrimination but also the lingering effects of racism, intolerance, and destructive policies relating to members of minorities. Although it has been more than 40 years since the passage of the Fair Housing Act, housing discrimination and segregation continue to taint communities across the country. Far too many homeseekers are shut out by housing providers’ prejudice and stereotypes instead of being welcomed into communities that are diverse and thriving. Continuing discrimination affects Blacks/African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, Arab Americans, Asian Americans, and other minority groups. DOJ/CRT has reinvigorated fair housing enforcement in recent years, working to ensure that local governments and private housing providers offer safe and affordable housing on a non-discriminatory basis,

38. Housing. The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 prohibits discrimination in allocation of community development funds on the basis, inter alia, of race, color or national origin. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), HUD requires jurisdictions and other recipients not only to address discrimination, but also to take affirmative steps to overcome barriers to fair housing choice and equal access to opportunity. Thus, communities receiving federal funding must take specific actions to promote diverse, inclusive communities. HUD is working to clarify the FHA obligations and to provide more assistance and guidance for meeting them. HUD and DOJ are also emphasizing high impact litigation, and in 2011, DOJ and HUD achieved the largest residential fair lending settlement in U.S. history, requiring Countrywide Financial Corporation to pay $335 million in compensation for Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino victims of discriminatory mortgage lending practices from 2004 through 2008. In 2012, HUD investigated 81 cases involving steering7 and 11 cases involving redlining8 along with other efforts to combat housing discrimination by private actors.

39. Federal housing assistance programs play an important role in covering the difference between the rents that low-income families are able to afford and the cost of rental housing. In 2012, the U.S. provided $2.95 billion in Community Development Block Grants to support housing, $1 billion for the HOME program, $685 million in Native American Fair Housing Grants, and $5.8 billion to public housing programs, Furthermore, 2,142,134 families received housing choice vouchers in 2012. In addition, HUD continues to help recipients of rental assistance in moving into higher-opportunity neighborhoods.  For example, the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program (BHMP) provides vouchers and counseling services to move individuals into neighborhoods where less than 30% of residents are members of a minority group, less than 10% of residents live in poverty, and less than 5% of all housing is public or HUD-assisted.  In a recent study of BHMP, more than 95% of new movers surveyed said that their new neighborhoods were better or much better than their old neighborhoods, and 63% rated their new neighborhoods as an excellent or very good place to raise children.

40. HUD is also creating new solutions to address the challenge of homelessness. In 2011, nearly 60% of all sheltered homeless persons were minorities. Data from HUD’s most recent count of homeless persons in January 2012 indicated a marginal decline in the estimated homeless population from 636,017 in 2009 to 633,782. In 2011, HUD estimated that there was a 7% drop in homelessness among veterans, 40% of whom are Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino. To help further combat homelessness, in 2009 Congress provided a one-time appropriation of $1.5 billion for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which served nearly 1,378,000 people with services to prevent homelessness or rapidly re-house those who experienced homelessness. HUD currently manages several programs directly addressing homelessness, including the Continuum of Care program, the Emergency Shelter Grant program, and two programs targeting homeless veterans in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. Furthermore, in 2010, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness published Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness – a comprehensive approach by 19 federal agencies to prevent and end veteran, chronic, and family and youth homelessness. This Plan presents 52 strategies based on best practices from around the country that build on the lesson that housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness,

41. Education. The United States also actively addresses de facto segregation in education – an issue not unrelated to residential segregation. Despite the promise of the Brown v Board of Education decision, far too many students still attend segregated schools with segregated faculties or unequal facilities. Even those enrolled in racially diverse schools too often are assigned to single-race classes, denied equal access to advanced courses, disciplined unfairly due to their race, or separated by race in prom and homecoming events. To ensure equal educational opportunities for all children, DOJ and ED enforce laws, such as Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act of 1972 (Title IX), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, that prohibit discrimination in education, including on the basis of race, color and national origin. DOJ/CRT monitors and seeks further relief, as necessary, in approximately 200 school districts that had a history of segregation and remain under court supervision. For example, since May 2011, CRT has been actively litigating to ensure that the Cleveland, Mississippi school district meets its long overdue obligation under U.S. law to desegregate its schools. CRT has argued that schools on the west side of the railroad tracks, which had been de jure segregated White schools until 1969 when the federal court ordered them to desegregate, still retain their character and reputation as White schools more than forty years later, while the formerly legally segregated schools on the east side of the tracks remain all Black/African American. Only one mile separates the all Black/African American schools from the high school and middle school with substantial White enrollments. CRT successfully asked the court to order the district to devise a new plan to desegregate its middle school and high school student bodies, as well as the faculties in all its schools. At a recent hearing, DOJ/CRT objected to the district’s proposed plan and urged the court to order the immediate and effective desegregation of the middle and high schools.

42. CRT also investigates new allegations of discrimination and harassment, including those based on race, color, and national origin, at all educational levels and, when appropriate, brings cases or intervenes in private suits. One example concerns complaints of severe harassment of Asian American students at South Philadelphia High School, including violent physical attacks against the students on school grounds. CRT engaged the school district, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, local advocacy organizations, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, students, and the community in an extensive investigation of the school district’s policies and practices regarding student-on-student harassment, leading to a December 2010 settlement agreement with the district to address and prevent such harassment. Advocates and students report that the school climate at South Philadelphia High School has improved since the agreement’s implementation.

43. ED receives and resolves civil rights complaints filed by members of the public, receiving more than 15,674 complaints in Fiscal Years (FYs) 2011 and 2012, including more than 4,056 complaints alleging discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. ED also initiates compliance reviews where information suggests widespread discrimination. Between FY 2009 and 2012, ED initiated more than 60 reviews specifically targeting Title VI discrimination issues.

44. The United States also assists school districts in voluntarily ending de facto segregation and avoiding racial isolation and in promoting diversity by 1) providing technical assistance in achieving these compelling government interests in ways that comply with non-discrimination laws, and 2) providing financial incentives to school districts for programs like magnet schools – schools with specialized courses or curricula that attract students from different areas with differing educational, economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. ED/OCR conducts hundreds of technical assistance and outreach activities each year and offers assistance on its website in 20 languages. ED also administers higher education programs that provide financial aid to students in need; promotes educational equality for students who are members of minority groups; assists school districts in offering educational opportunities to Native Hawaiians, American Indians, and Alaska Natives; and provides grants to strengthen higher education institutions that serve populations historically underserved (e.g., minority serving institutions and historically Black colleges and universities). In May 2011, ED/OCR and DOJ/CRT jointly released guidance to remind school districts of the federal obligation to provide equal educational opportunities to all children residing within district boundaries, regardless of the actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status of the children and their parents or guardians. In December 2011, DOJ and ED also released two guidance documents on the voluntary use of race to achieve diversity and avoid racial isolation, one for school districts and one for colleges and universities.

45. In 2011, ED formed the Equity and Excellence Commission to recommend ways school finance can be improved to increase equity and achievement. The Commission issued a report containing its findings and recommendations in February 2013. See The federal government is also working closely with civil society groups and state and local education authorities to address the factors that contribute to the achievement gap and to ensure equality for all children in public schools – particularly Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino children, and ELL students. In 2011, ED held a series of National Conversations on ELL education that brought together key stakeholders in six cities. President Obama and Dr. Jill Biden also convened the first White House Summit on Community Colleges in 2010 to discuss the role of community colleges in making higher education available to all. ED continued this dialogue by holding four regional community college summits and a Community College Virtual Symposium, which resulted in the production of four papers to assist community college leaders and practitioners in promoting college and career readiness for low-skill adults, aligning secondary and postsecondary education, reforming remedial education programs to meet student needs more effectively, and increasing employer engagement at community colleges. In April 2012, ED released Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education, which emphasizes improved data systems and incentives to identify and close participation and achievement gaps where they exist in career and technical education programs.

46. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Administration made an unprecedented financial commitment of almost $100 billion to education, including the Race to the Top (RTT) program. RTT provides incentives to states to implement large-scale, system-changing reforms to improve student achievement, narrow achievement gaps, and increase graduation and college enrollment rates. Recovery Act funds are also being used to increase available financial aid and loans for postsecondary school education, and to provide $12 billion for community colleges to enroll workers who need further education and training.

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