The Department of Housing and Urban Development is facing a lawsuit over its suspension of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which it adopted in 2015 to guide the fair housing compliance efforts of local and state recipients of its block grant funds.
The suit was filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the nonprofit Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, and public interest justice center Texas Appleseed.
The plaintiffs are seeking a court order requiring HUD to restart the implementation of the AFFH rule immediately, in effect reinstating a federal requirement that local and state governments address segregated housing patterns as a condition of receiving HUD funding.
According to the complaint, the HUD unlawfully suspended the requirement in January. The plaintiffs claim the move effectively removed civil rights oversight of as much as $5.5 billion per year until 2024 or later for almost 1,000 jurisdictions. They claim local municipalities would receive government funds with no accountability.
The lawsuit alleges that HUD’s move violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which sets out procedural and substantive requirements for the adoption and modification of federal regulations. The department failed to provide advance notice or opportunity to comment on the suspension and failed to articulate any plausible reason for the suspension. The plaintiffs also allege that the suspension violates HUD’s own AFFH duty.
“For thirty years, NFHA has promoted the affirmatively furthering fair housing requirement of the Fair Housing Act. We have advocated to HUD to release an effective AFFH rule, educated jurisdictions, fair housing groups, and community-based organizations about the AFFH requirements, and implemented programs designed to further fair housing,” NFHA President and CEO Lisa Rice said. “Each day HUD holds up requiring jurisdictions to fully comply with the law is another day that millions of people are being denied fair housing opportunities. HUD’s action is a clear example of ‘justice delayed, justice denied.’”