Twenty-five years ago today, the ACLU of Maryland filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that changed the housing landscape in a major metropolitan area. The suit, Carmen Thompson, et al. v. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, et al., was a crucible for two questions that remain urgent today: “Who gets to live where?” and “What is racism?”
In the early 1990s, housing authorities across America were itching to tear down high-rise public housing. Under President Bill Clinton, the HOPE VI program inspired visions of low-rise mixed-income housing replacing the towers.