Court OKs HUD Overhaul of Obama-era Desegregation Rule

By: - August 23, 2018 12:00 am

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is proceeding with its plans to amend stringent Obama-era rules requiring cities to come up with a blueprint for eradicating segregation in their communities.

The announcement comes in the wake of a federal court ruling upholding HUD’s overhaul of its desegregation regulations. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance, Texas Appleseed and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service.

In particular, the lawsuit sought to reinstate an interactive computer mapping tool used by cities to identify patterns of segregation, which housing advocates have said was essential to desegregation efforts. HUD says the tool was confusing to use.

In a statement, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said, “I am tremendously gratified that the Court agreed with HUD on all its legal arguments. My approach to regulations is that they should work in practice and not just in theory. Fairness is baked into our DNA. Whether it’s making sure our regulations work in the real world, or challenging discrimination where we find it, HUD stands for fairness.”

Earlier this month, HUD published a notice inviting public comment as it seeks to overhaul the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule.

Despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968, racial segregation remains entrenched in the United States. Some of the nation’s most diverse cities are among the most segregated. To remedy this, the Obama administration in 2015 approved strict guidance that gave communities a blueprint for addressing racial segregation aggressively — and threatened the denial of millions of federal dollars if they failed to do so.

But in January, the Trump administration suspended the rule. Some cities and counties are proceeding with their desegregation plans, but housing advocates have said the delay could make things harder for them on several levels.

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Teresa Wiltz

Teresa Wiltz covers welfare, housing and social services for Stateline. Previously, she worked for the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.