Fair housing advocates file a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the department’s suspension of a rule that required local governments to submit plans for desegregation in their communities before receiving federal housing funds. The rule and the funding for compliance is intended to help prevent segregation and support the purpose of the Fair Housing Act.
Ben Carson, who has long criticized federal efforts to desegregate American neighborhoods as “failed socialist experiments,” suspended the rule in January, allowing local and state governments to continue receiving HUD grants without compliance with the full requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
On twitter, Senator Kamala Harris spoke out in support of the fair housing advocates’ lawsuit stating:
This Administration must recognize there is real, systematic racism and classism in our housing system. We need to work to guarantee no one is ever denied housing because of their race or income.
“HUD has continued to grant federal dollars to municipalities even when they know the municipalities are engaging in discrimination,” said Lisa Rice, president and chief executive of the National Fair Housing Alliance, one of three housing advocacy groups that joined the lawsuit. “They are rewarding cities for bad behavior.”
In 2008, the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, led by former HUD secretaries Jack Kemp, a Republican, and Henry Cisneros, a Democrat, reported that “HUD requires no evidence that anything is actually being done as a condition of funding.”
In 2009, HUD found that many communities could not produce documentation of their efforts to assess and address fair-housing concerns.
A 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that nearly a third of jurisdictions had not completed an analysis within five years. Of the ones that had, the GAO found that most were limited to aspirational statements of vague goals without defined time frames.
The lawsuit filed on Tuesday is an opportunity to enforce the rule in The Fair Housing Act- without enforcement the act is useless. The complaint alleges HUD violated the procedural rules for changing federal regulations when it did not provide advance notice of the change and open a period of public comment, as well as when it did not give a “plausible reason” for the rule’s suspension.
The suit was brought by the National Fair Housing Alliance and two Texas civil rights organizations in the Federal District Court for Washington, D.C.
We’ll keep you posted.