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Landmark Settlement of Texas' AFFH Obligations

Relman, Dane & Colfax is pleased to announce the settlement of landmark Fair Housing Act complaint filed by Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Texas Appleseed against the State of Texas. The settlement requires the State of Texas to conduct a new Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and to document how its and Texas municipalities' expenditures comply with the obligation to "affirmatively further fair housing" ("AFFH").

The settlement was achieved through a Conciliation Agreement approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") on May 25, 2010. The Agreement (and the State's submission of a new disaster recovery plan) paves the way for the release of $1.7 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds specifically appropriated for hurricane recovery efforts. HUD had withheld the funds after the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Texas Appleseed expressed concerns about the State's compliance with its planning and civil rights obligations.

In furtherance of its AFFH obligations, the State will:

  • Shift an additional $152 million toward housing needs of low- and moderate-income households
  • Provide funding for the replacement of all public housing units in the City of Galveston and in other municipalities where units were destroyed, and set aside $100 million to rebuild subsidized housing in the Counties of Harris, Galveston and Orange
  • Fund an $18 million "Impacted Area Buyout" program to permit low- and moderate-income victims of the hurricanes to move out of areas of high minority and high poverty concentration, and a "Title Clearance and Legal Assistance" program to resolve problems with "heir property" and to make those properties eligible for disaster assistance
  • Provide up to $5 million to fund a "Moving to Opportunity" program under which tenants with portable rental subsidies can relocate to higher opportunity areas

The Agreement also mandates AFFH and civil rights training for municipal recipients of disaster recovery funds, and requires State agencies and recipients to collect and publicly report data relevant to compliance with the AFFH and other civil rights obligations. The resolution of the Texas AFFH complaint builds on the success of last year's Westchester settlement. It signals that HUD has raised the bar on AFFH compliance, and that recipients of federal funds have to take their civil rights obligations very seriously. Michael Allen served as lead counsel for the Firm. Michael, who was also lead counsel in the Westchester case, noted that "the innovative approach taken in Texas provides a new template for advocates and municipalities around the country to ensure that federal funds are, in fact, spent in a way that affirmatively furthers fair housing choice."

 

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