An alliance of fair-housing rights groups plan to file a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson for suspending an Obama-era rule that aimed to promote fair housing, according to multiple media reports.
Carson suspended the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule in January. The 2015 provision required communities receiving federal development funds to submit plans to “overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination.”
According to The New York Times, a coalition of national and Texas-based housing groups plan to argue that Carson violated the 1968 Fair Housing Act by failing to ensure HUD had a plan to make sure the $28 billion allocated for Hurricane Harvey relief is distributed without discrimination.
The Washington Post said a draft of the lawsuit it obtained “alleges Carson unlawfully suspended the 2015 rule by not providing advance public notice or opportunity for comment.”
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the “sale, rental and financing of dwellings,” but housing advocates say enforcement of the law has been weak in the 50 years since its passage. The rule put in place under former HUD secretary Julian Castro aimed to address those failures.
Carson criticized the rule as a fresh example of the “failed socialist experiments of the 1980s” and compared it to the school busing debate, in a 2015 op-ed for The Washington Times.
“These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse,” Carson said. “There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens, but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.”