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On October 23, 2017, two individuals and a civil rights organization sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) challenging its decision to suspend a rule that would have assisted low-income families in securing affordable housing.

The federal government’s Housing Choice Voucher program—formerly known as the Section 8 voucher program—subsidizes the housing costs of more than two million low-income American households. HUD’s Small Area Fair Market Rent (Small Area FMR) rule would have improved the way that the value of housing vouchers is calculated by allowing low-income families access to a broader market of rental properties. The lawsuit challenged HUD’s delay of the rule’s implementation.

On Saturday, December 23, 2017, a federal judge ordered the Trump Administration immediately to reinstate an Obama Administration regulation providing Voucher users the opportunity to move from impoverished, racially segregated neighborhoods to areas that provide better schools, better jobs, and greater access to community amenities.

Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction after finding that HUD lacked authority to suspend the Small Area Fair Market Rent Rule and had no good reason for the suspension, stating "This case is about the rule of law." The 47-page opinion goes on to meticulously demonstrate how HUD misapplied its own regulation to claim authority it does not possess and drew unwarranted conclusions from evidence that does not support HUD's action.

The firm's litigation team was assisted by co-counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Public Citizen Litigation Group.

Case Citation

Open Communities Alliance v. Carson, No. 17-2192 (BAH) (D.D.C.).

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