Category Archives: National News

HUD Secretary Ben Carson to be sued for suspending Obama-era fair-housing rule

by Tracy Jan
The Washington Post

Fair-housing advocates planned to file a lawsuit early Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for suspending an Obama-era rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration.

The 2015 rule required more than 1,200 communities receiving billions of federal housing dollars to draft plans to desegregate their communities — or risk losing federal funds.

[Complaint filed against HUD Secretary Ben Carson]

After nearly 50 years of inaction, the rule was seen as a belated effort by HUD to enforce the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which compelled communities to use federal dollars to end segregation in residential neighborhoods.

The 2015 rule, developed over a six-year period, required every community receiving HUD funding to assess local segregation patterns, diagnose the barriers to fair housing and develop a plan to correct them. Most communities were supposed to submit their plans to HUD every five years, beginning in 2016. Communities without HUD-approved plans would no longer receive federal housing dollars.

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.

The lawsuit alleges Carson unlawfully suspended the 2015 rule by not providing advanced public notice or opportunity for comment, according to a draft obtained by The Washington Post.

The agency said local jurisdictions must continue to promote fair housing but granted communities until at least 2024 in most cases to do so, according to a three-page notice published in the Federal Register.

HUD said it based its decision on the fact that more than a third of the 49 plans initially submitted to the agency were rejected as incomplete or inconsistent with fair-housing and civil rights requirements.

Fair-housing advocates who helped develop the rule under the Obama administration said that is precisely why the rule is necessary and that nearly all of the rejected plans were soon accepted after HUD officials stepped in to help.

[Carson to propose raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies]

The agency, in its January announcement, said that the process is too burdensome for communities and that too many HUD resources were being devoted to helping them revise their plans. As a result, HUD said, it would discontinue its review of plans and directed communities in the process of revising their plans not to submit them.

The agency said it would use the additional time to streamline the process and provide more technical assistance so that communities stand a better chance of having their plans approved on the first try.

In the meantime, HUD said communities should revert to what they were supposed to have been doing before the 2015 rule and certify that they have conducted an analysis of impediments to fair housing and taken actions to overcome them.

Housing advocates said the retreat would perpetuate housing segregation, given earlier assessments that the previous provisions were essentially toothless.

“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.

“HUD required jurisdictions only to certify that, every few years, they analyzed barriers to fair housing in their communities, made gestures in the direction of solving them, and memorialized this analysis in their own files (never reviewed by HUD),” the lawsuit said, according to the draft. “As both HUD and the Government Accountability Office found, putting local jurisdictions on the honor system was ineffective.”

[Carson’s mission statement for HUD may no longer include anti-discrimination language]

Rice met with Carson last week to ask him to reinstate the rule and enforce it. The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Texas Appleseed, two nonprofit organizations that had previously sued HUD over other fair-housing issues, also joined the lawsuit.

A HUD spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, pointing to a statement in January when the agency suspended the rule. “The Assessment of Fair Housing tool for local governments wasn’t working well,” the HUD statement said. “HUD stands by the Fair Housing Act’s requirement to affirmatively furthering fair housing, but we must make certain that the tools we provide to our grantees work in the real world.”

The lawsuit also accuses HUD of violating its statutory duty to ensure that federal funds are used to promote fair housing and seeks a court order requiring the agency to immediately restart the rule.

“Decades of experience have shown that, left to their own devices, local jurisdictions will simply pocket federal funds and do little to further fair housing objectives,” the lawsuit said. “Judicial intervention is necessary to vindicate the rule of law and to bring fair housing to communities that have been deprived of it for too long.”

In 2009, a district court found Westchester County in New York could produce no evidence that it had ever evaluated the extent of racial segregation or committed to a plan to redress it.

The county had for years certified it was complying with the Fair Housing Act, even as it deliberately concentrated affordable housing in a small number of predominantly black and Latino communities while distributing millions in HUD grants to overwhelmingly white suburbs that refused to allow affordable housing, according to the complaint against HUD.

After the 2009 court decision, HUD began asking municipalities to submit their analyses of housing patterns. More than a third could not produce one. Of those that did, half were deemed unacceptable. And only a fifth of the jurisdictions that submitted their analyses committed to doing anything within a particular time frame.

The exercise eventually resulted in the 2015 rule requiring communities take meaningful action to overcome long-standing patterns of segregation and analyze housing patterns, concentrated poverty and disparities in access to transportation, jobs and good schools.

Since the rule, housing advocates say, many communities have made great strides. Officials in Paramount, Calif., have set deadlines to amend its zoning ordinance to make housing more inclusive. New Orleans has promised to create 140 affordable rental units in wealthier communities by 2021 and increase homeownership among families receiving housing subsidies by 10 percent each year.

[What Ben Carson gets wrong about segregation in the United States]

Chester County, Pa., promised to make it easier for low-income families receiving housing vouchers to move to wealthier neighborhoods with better schools and more job opportunities. El Paso County, Colo., has committed to developing 100 subsidized affordable housing units in communities with better opportunities. Philadelphia committed to addressing the problem of widespread evictions in minority neighborhoods.

But many communities continue to struggle to address the impediments to fair housing, advocates say. In Hidalgo County, Tex., which has historically ignored the needs of the predominantly Latino population in “colonias” that often lack basic infrastructure such as water, sewage, electricity and paved roads, officials have no incentive to improve their plan now that HUD no longer requires it.

And advocates worry that Corpus Christi, Tex., will not direct hundreds of millions of dollars in federal disaster relief money after Hurricane Harvey toward fair housing.

“My fear is that HUD’s rescission of the rule tells communities, ‘You’re off the hook,’ ” said Madison Sloan, director of Texas Appleseed’s Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing project. “ ‘We’re going to keep giving you money even while you keep perpetuating segregation.’ ”

Carson, during his January 2017 confirmation hearing, criticized the 2015 rule for compelling communities receiving HUD funding to look around for “anything that looks like discrimination.”

“They’re not responding to people saying there’s a problem,” Carson said. “They’re saying go and look for a problem and then give us a solution. And what I believe to be the case is we have people sitting around their desks in Washington, D.C., deciding on how things should be done, you know, telling mayors and commissioners that you need to build this place right here and you need to put these kinds of people at it.”

Rushed Senate Consideration of GOP ACA Repeal Bill Designed to Hide Severe Flaws

Congressional Republicans are making a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through their latest plan, from Senators Cassidy and Graham, and reportedly are close to securing the votes of 50 senators needed to push the bill through the Senate before September 30th.

Such a strategy would violate the principals of “regular order” even more egregiously than the non-transparent, partisan process of the previous repeal bills.

It would amount to passing a poorly understood bill through the Senate within two weeks without hearings, floor debate, input from constituents, and without a comprehensive Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the bill’s impact.

Senators Cassidy and Graham and their counterparts appear set to take the exact approach they criticized, precisely in order to hide the bill’s damaging impact on coverage, consumer costs, and consumer protections.

This bill is in many ways as bad as – or worse than – previous repeal bills that have failed to pass Congress this year.

cassidy-graham

Read the Report

Download the PDF (4pp)

US Senate bill would increase investment in affordable homes + More of Today’s News

Senate bill would increase investment in affordable housing
Philadelphia Inquirer

Due to success stories like these and so many others, competition for LIHTCs is intense. Two out of every three proposals are rejected each year, largely because of the limited resources available. But a bipartisan bill has a chance to further the program’s impact. Introduced by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) and Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 would double the amount of credits made available each year.

Read More

Will Affordable-Housing Decision Be Derailed by Judge’s Ties to Developer
NJ Spotlight

New Jersey’s only municipality to receive its affordable-housing obligation from a judge’s order is continuing to appeal that number, even as construction is underway on the first new developments since the Supreme Court got back in the middle of the Mount Laurel housing controversy. The township is claiming the Superior Court judge was compromised by a relationship with the developer.

Read More

President Trump’s First Budget and Build a Thriving NJ

Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness is sharing information from Monarch Housing that relates to the federal budget for housing and related services.

President Trump’s First Budget Could Cripple Affordable Housing

View the PowerPoint slides

View the webinar video

Build a Thriving NJ campaign

If we build homes we can afford, and revitalize the communities where we work and live, we can Build a Thriving New Jersey. Our families, friends and neighbors are the heart of our state and the backbone of our economy. If we can’t afford to live here, we cannot get our economy back on track.

The next leaders of NJ must commit $600 million annually to create homes we can afford. For a one-pager on the campaign with details of how the $600 million will be used visit this link.

If you have not endorsed the campaign, we strongly encourage you to visit this link and do it today!!

We need resources on the state and federal level if we are going to end homelessness and housing poverty in NJ!

#NJCounts 2017 Reaches Out to Homeless Families, Individuals, Youth and Veterans

NJCounts 2017

On January 25th, 2017  homeless service providers and volunteers conducted a count of homeless individuals and families in Mercer County as part of the #NJCounts 2017. This count provides a snapshot of the scope of homelessness in our community and across the nation and is vital to assessing need and leveraging resources to prevent and end homelessness.   Click here​ to read the full article. 

We need to tell Congress now NOT TO REPEAL Medicaid expansion

Members of Congress need to hear from you how Medicaid expansion is critical to helping people experiencing homelessness receive coverage and care.

Here’s What You Can Do Now:

  1. Go here and click “Call Congress.”
  2. Fill out the form and follow the simple instructions to call your Congressional office. You can reference the script of talking points that will pop up.
  3. After you make the call, please fill in the feedback form on the last page to let us know how the call went.

Once you’ve made your calls, return to the homepage and Tweet at your members of Congress using #ACAWorks and #ProtectOurCare.

More Actions You Can Take:

Watch the Webinar

Listen to the webinar co-hosted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, and CSH to stay informed about what is at stake and prepare you for sustained advocacy on this issue.

Background

As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of people eligible for Medicaid increased, known as Medicaid expansion. Medicaid Expansion is not mandatory since the Supreme Court ruled that states are not required to expand their Medicaid coverage. However. most states have expanded their coverage. As a result, 11 million people have gained coverage in expansion states. Our partners at Health Care for the Homeless found that homeless patients are nearly five times more likely to have gained insurance since 2013 if they live in a state that has expanded Medicaid.
 
Repeal of the ACA is a repeal of Medicaid expansion.
 
If this happens, the most vulnerable people will be disproportionately impacted including many people experiencing homelessness who will lose their healthcare coverage. It’s up to us to protect the care of people experiencing homelessness.

Call your members of Congress TODAY and ask them to not to repeal the Medicaid expansion!

Homelessness Update

Hud awards $1.95 Billion in continuum of care grants

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded funding to almost 7,600 local homeless service providers to end homelessness. This year’s Continuum of Care (CoC) competition continued its trend of rewarding high-performing, Housing First programs.

See a full list of awardees »

Building owners managers can play a role in ending homelessness

In high-rent, low-vacancy markets the need for subsidized housing outweighs the supply. Owners of HUD-assisted multifamily buildings can apply a “homeless preference” to their waitlist to help house a homeless individual or family quickly.

Learn More about the “Homeless Preference” »

Eight things the new congress may do with big impacts on homelessness

Big change is underway in Washington, DC! While there is little information coming from the Trump administration’s transition team about policy, there are some things we can plan for based on what we do know. Read our blog on potential changes to the Affordable Care Act, appropriations, spending limits and more.

Read the Blog »

Final rule establishes performance standards for RHY grantees

The Families and Youth Services Bureau has released its final rule on its Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs.

The rule reflects existing statutory requirements in the RHYA and changes made via the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008. More specifically, the rule establishes program performance standards for RHY grantees providing services to eligible youth and their families.

The final rule also includes additional requirements that apply to the Basic Center, Transitional Living, and Street Outreach Programs, such as nondiscrimination, background checks, outreach, and training.

Read the Final Rule »

Making Rapid Re-Housing Partnerships: Lots of Work To Do!

by Sharon McDonald

In September, people from across the country participated in our Rapid Re-Housing Summit to explore successes and assess the next steps to advance the model further. One of the key topics participants explored was developing partnerships. The big takeaway? We have a lot of work to do!

Read more »

Ready for the New Congress: 8 Things They Might Do With Big Impacts on Homelessness

by Steve Berg

Big change is underway in Washington, DC! On Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, the same party will take control of both Congress and the White House. This was also the case at the beginning of the Obama, W. Bush and Clinton administrations. The result was that all three administrations were able to get major legislation passed very early.

There is little information coming from the Trump administration’s transition team about policy. But, there are some things we can plan for based on what we do know.

Read more »

How Salt Lake City Makes Rapid Re-Housing Work

by naehblog

For rapid re-housing to work best, it needs to be integrated into your community plan. It should be a part of Coordinated Entry, ingrained in the processes at emergency shelters, and supported by committed resources from many partners who help families re-build their support networks and stability in housing.

Read more »

The above information was provided by The National Alliance to End Homelessness in an email.

In Case You Missed It…

This week at CBPP, we focused on health care, the federal budget and taxes, state budgets and taxes, and food assistance.

  • On health care, Matt Broaddus and Edwin Park highlighted the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s historic coverage gains.  Our state-by-state interactive illustrated how ACA repeal would undermine these gains and leave many more uninsured.  Sarah Lueck explained that the Republican approach to repeal means millions will lose pre-existing condition protections.  Anna Bailey noted that despite the newly signed Cures Act, Medicaid remains the major source of funding for states to treat mental illness and substance use disorders.  Shelby Gonzales reminded consumers to enroll in marketplace plans for coverage that starts on January 1.
  • On the federal budget and taxes, Richard Kogan and David Reich found that House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price’s proposals to change the budget process would harm key programs aimed at moderate- and low-income families and favor tax breaks for the wealthy.  Chye-Ching Huang and Paul Van de Water used new Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center data to show that millionaires would receive most of the tax cuts from repealing the ACA.  Chloe Cho’s state-by-state look at repealing the estate tax demonstrated that only the wealthiest few Americans would benefit.  We excerpted Jared Bernstein’s Washington Post op-ed listing why policymakers shouldn’t cut taxes.
  • On state budgets and taxes, Elizabeth McNichol analyzed how states can use tax policy to stop increasing inequality and start reducing it, and our state-by-state fact sheets reveal the striking concentration of incomes among the wealthiest residents in every state. 
  • On food assistance, Dottie Rosenbaum and Ed Bolen explained why reports claiming the alleged success of reimposing a three-month time limit on SNAP in Kansas and Maine are misleading.

Chart of the week: Large Coverage Gains Under Affordable Care Act

A variety of news outlets featured CBPP’s work and experts recently. Here are some highlights:

Why Trump Should Strengthen the Housing Voucher Program
Huffington Post
December 16, 2016

The stealth attack on the social safety net will come through boring budget processes
Daily Kos
December 14, 2016

Why even the strongest Republican efforts can’t defeat the welfare state
Washington Post
December 12, 2016

Surprise! Obamacare Repeal Includes a Stealth Tax Cut For Top Earners
Talking Points Memo
December 9, 2016

What Would It Take to Replace the Pay Working-Class Americans Have Lost?
New York Times
December 9, 2016

The above information was provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in an email.