Our Beef with AMI

There's no mystery; it's pretty straightforward: AMI includes high-income neighborhoods and suburbs, and results in higher definitions of income averages and medians than if more narrowly defined geographic units, Community Board or neighborhood boundaries, are used. In advancing the FHA argument, we compare who would be eligible, by race, if the AMi is used to determine eligibility, as compared to those eligible by race if a Community Board or Census Tract definition is used. Using the AMI reduces the number of black income earners eligible, and that can be objectively shown and should be known to any agency making the decision to use AMI. AMI violates the FHA's disparate impact rule, and our thesis holds true whatever percentage used. Now, granted we could simply fix the eligibility level arbitrarily lower, but we want to have some actual representation of the differences among different communities, some rational basis for the eligibility level used. There's no magic thinking here: whatever geographic area is used; it must simply be one that more accurately reflects the existing distribution of minorities in the target area. One would not make the fair housing argument in an area in which the AMI is in fact lower than what a different choice would provide.