A coalition of fair housing advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) along with Secretary Ben Carson for suspending a federal requirement which not only forbade racial discrimination in housing, but mandated local government to work to desegregate their communities.
The complaint, filed on behalf of The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), Texas Appleseed, and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, alleges that HUD unlawfully suspended the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule of 2015, a key provision of the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, effectively removing civil rights oversight of as much as $5.5 billion per year until 2024 or later for almost 1,000 jurisdictions.
“With this lawsuit, the civil rights community is standing up to Secretary Ben Carson and fighting back against an egregious attempt to roll back a hard fought victory,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule (AFFH) is a critical part of ongoing work to address structural racism and inequality today. Through this lawsuit, we are taking action to hold HUD accountable and ensure that HUD fulfills its mission of addressing ongoing racial segregation and housing discrimination which persist across the country today.”
HUD adopted the AFFH final rule in 2015, fulfilling an unmet mandate of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. It was a federal regulation that ensured that local and state governments receiving block grants from HUD complete a comprehensive Fair Housing Assessment. Carson has called the law “social programming.” Now, as Trump’s head of HUD, the agency is rolling back the deadline on the AFFH until well after 2020 to comply.
For some municipalities, the AFFH rule would be delayed until at least 2024, affecting the lives and opportunities of millions of people. By suspending implementation of the rule, local municipalities will receive government funds with no accountability, the lawsuit alleges.
HUD says that the extension gives communities more time to address a ruling that “some have struggled to follow.”
“There are jurisdictions working around the clock right now on their efforts to demonstrate that they are actively promoting fair housing in their respective communities,” says Clarke. “The suspension of this rule right now will bring to a grinding halt the very proactive steps that many jurisdictions have been taking.”