The National Fair Housing Alliance, Texas Housers and Texas Appleseed filed an amended complaint and a new preliminary injunction motion in their lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson.
The lawsuit was originally filed May 8 in federal court in Washington D.C. in response to the federal housing agency’s abrupt decision to delay the implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. The rule, finalized in 2015, provides necessary guidance to ensure that jurisdictions, under the Fair Housing Act are fulfilling their obligation to undo the legacy of government-created segregation.
Last week, HUD filed several notices, essentially continuing the delay of the implementation of the fair housing rule, but also withdrew its Assessment Tool that local governments use to complete their Assessments of Fair Housing.
Texas Housers, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and Texas Appleseed amended the lawsuit and are calling on HUD to rescind the May 23rd notice and fully implement the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule immediately.
Under the Fair Housing Act, local governments are responsible for spending federal dollars in a way that is not discriminatory, but it also requires that local jurisdictions address patterns of segregation and inequality. The Assessment of Fair Housing process and the tool provided by HUD to jurisdictions helps communities plan and address barriers to decent, quality homes in neighborhoods that suit families’ needs. This tool is critical to ensuring that local governments receiving federal dollars for community development live up to the civil rights obligations in the investment of those funds.
HUD is now essentially removing itself from its oversight role as it distributes millions of dollars to cities without requiring them to set goals toward creating a more inclusive and integrated society. This not only leaves local governments susceptible to continuing patterns of segregation, but it also means that the needs and struggles of families who continue to be consigned to unequal conditions will continue to go unheard by local governments.
In Texas Housers’ involvement with the Assessment of Fair Housing process with several Texas jurisdictions, we have found that many cities were finally bringing to light issues of inequality that had been ignored in the previous HUD process (called an Analysis of Impediments). The AFH process and the tool provided a necessary framework for inclusive community planning and working toward the commitment toward one equal society.
In this country, a child’s zip code is more relevant to health, education and career outcomes than his or her genetic code. The places we call home often determine the kind of opportunity we have. We must work toward a society where that is not an unfortunate truth. Achieving fair housing is part of that.
HUD is holding that work back.
HUD was tasked with undoing the harms of deliberate racist policies and systems the federal government created and helping build an inclusive vibrant, integrated country. It is now retreating from that noble mission — worse, it’s hindering local governments and advocates from contributing to that mission.
We’re calling on HUD to change its current course and continue its vital responsibility to enforce the Fair Housing Act.