President Donald Trump appointed Ben Carson secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) without any prior experience except that Carson “grew up in an inner city.” Now Carson is leaving the door wide open for housing discrimination.
Civil rights groups, including the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), Texas Appleseed and the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday over Carson sidelining a housing regulation rule, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision, in January. The rule was designed to discourage racial segregation in cities and towns, saying integration is critical to the nation’s economic prosperity.
Advocates filing the lawsuit have said that his actions “violated the 1968 Housing Act, a law that was pressed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shortly before his assassination,” The New York Times reports.
“The suit claims that Mr. Carson is leaving HUD without a system to prevent a pattern of discrimination in the allocation of $28 billion in disaster relief funding after a succession of natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey, last year.”
Adopted under the Obama administration in 2015, the rule required local governments to assess how much racial segregation exists and to set targets to boost integration.
Carson claims the housing rule hindered local governments that would have to assign funds to support the agenda.
In the lawsuit, the fair housing advocates cited examples in Texas and New York “where without the rule, local governments steered unpopular low-income housing into minority neighborhoods rather than into predominantly white areas,” according to Reuters.
After the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, HUD referred the media to its statement in January.
In March, HUD came under fire for a leaked draft of a proposed mission statement for the agency that removed words and phrases like “inclusion” and “free from discrimination.”
“For decades, policies and practices of the federal government created and perpetuated segregated communities in this country. Because this segregation was created through deliberate action, it will take equally deliberate action to overcome its harmful effects,” Jorge Soto, director of public policy for NFHA, told Politico.
“Segregation is not an accident it is the product of decades of intentional government policy,” Madison Sloan, director of Texas Appleseed, said in a statement.