On May 23, 2018--just two weeks after Relman, Dane & Colfax and its co-counsel sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on behalf of National Fair Housing Alliance, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Texas Appleseed for suspending the AFFH Rule--HUD published three Federal Register notices, seeking to undermine the Assessment of Fair Housing process by withdrawing the Assessment Tool that local governments are required to use in that process.
Within days, Relman, Dane & Colfax and its co-counsel filed an amended complaint and renewed motion for preliminary injunction. Seven states, six major cities and more than 50 housing, consumer, anti-homelessness and anti-poverty advocacy organizations have since formally supported Plaintiff's position and expressed concern about HUD's illegal suspension of the Assessment process.
Plaintiffs' amended and renewed filings allege that HUD's May 23 notices are merely an alternate--and no less permissible--approach to undermining the "affirmatively furthering fair housing" obligation that the Fair Housing Act imposes on recipients of HUD funding. They have asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order HUD to resume the Assessment process immediately. A preliminary injunction hearing is likely to be held in early July.
The broad coalition of governmental and advocacy organization expressed support for Plaintiffs' position through formal filings submitted to the court on June 5, 2018. New York State filed a motion to intervene as a plaintiff in the litigation, noting in its supporting papers that HUD's suspension of the Assessment process hurts the state and its municipalities because it makes it harder for them to overcome residential segregation. The State of Maryland submitted an amicus brief--joined by California, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia, and the cities of Austin, New Orleans, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Toledo--echoing those same themes.
Separately, PolicyLink submitted an amicus brief describing its own experience with providing technical assistance to enhance the capacity of local governments (and grassroots organizations) to fully participate in the Assessment process, and pointing out HUD's recent retreat from providing such assistance to localities.
The National Housing Law Project authored another amicus brief--joined by 56 other national, regional and local advocacy organizations--documenting HUD's long history of not enforcing the "affirmatively furthering" obligation, suggesting that, "[i]n failing to implement--and actively undermining--the AFFH Rule, the Secretary thwarts the will of Congress," and asking the court to enjoin his unlawful action.
The Relman, Dane & Colfax litigation team is led by Sasha Samberg-Champion, Sara Pratt and Michael Allen. Our co-counsel are the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and Public Citizen Litigation Group.