Fair Housing and Community Development Project
The mission of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project (FHCD) is to fight discrimination in housing through enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and to promote greater opportunity for low-income people of color by utilizing a number of legal and community-based strategies. In addition to impact litigation, the FHCD team consults with local jurisdictions to evaluate and recommend fair housing strategies, provides legal support for housing justice organizations, and advocates for the promulgation and enforcement of Housing and Urban Development rules to ensure equitable access to crucial resources and meaningful housing choices for racial minorities.
Our Most Recent Work:
On Nov. 18, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, claiming HUD has perpetuated segregation in North Hartford, Connecticut.
From 2017 through 2019, tenants at three buildings that HUD had been subsidizing for years in North Hartford drew attention to conditions that were inhumane and inhospitable. HUD terminated the contracts, and the families living in these buildings were given vouchers to move. They were also entitled to mobility counseling, and hoped they would be able to move to a higher opportunity area to break the cycle of segregation and lack of access to high-performing schools, good jobs, and a safe and healthy living environment.
However, HUD failed to provide these tenants with the mobility counseling they were entitled to, imposed relocation deadlines that were highly unreasonable, and contracted with voucher administrators that effectively kept these families in North Hartford. HUD prioritized relocating people quickly, causing them to move from one low-opportunity area to another or to not even leave the neighborhood at all.
North Hartford has been described by HUD itself as one of the poorest areas of the country, and has a significantly higher rate of poverty and concentration of marginalized communities than the rest of the city or surrounding towns. The lawsuit argues that HUD violated the Fair Housing Act and Administrative Procedure Act, and chose to perpetuate segregation when it could have been prevented.
Read the lawsuit here.
In response to Congress’ failure to extend the eviction mortarium, we launched the National Anti-Eviction Project to provide direct legal representation to tenants facing eviction as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. We are recruiting pro-bono lawyers and law students, and are currently serving tenants in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and will soon expand to Baltimore, Maryland and New Orleans, Louisiana. Read the full story here.
Cases and Matters
The Fair Housing & Community Development Project partners with law firms to provide a range of pro bono legal assistance. Click on the links below to learn more about the project’s legal services.
- Community Lawyering – Supporting community organizing and advocacy campaigns.
- Litigation – Challenging discrimination and loan modification scams through the courts.
The Fair Housing & Community Development Project assists organizations working on the following issues:
- Affordable and supportive housing development and preservation
- Fair housing
- Community revitalization and blight removal
- Environmental justice and community health
- Food access
- Youth development
- Community benefits agreements
- Community-based planning
The Fair Housing & Community Development Project supports community-based organizations, including:
- Community development corporations
- Affordable housing developers
- Community-based coalitions
- Neighborhood associations
- Advocacy organizations
- Fair housing organizations
- Community land trusts
- Social service providers
- Community health clinics
- Urban farms
To learn more, please email the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at [email protected].
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)
Congress originally created the duty to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) when it enacted the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in 1968, but enforcement of the duty in the intervening decades has been limited. The duty requires the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), HUD grhttp://lawyerscom.wpengine.com/project/fair-housing-and-community-development-project/cases-matters/aianamic/antees, and entities involved in the administration of other federal housing and community development programs to take proactive steps to support residential integration and other important goals of the FHA. In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on the duty to AFFH and increasing compliance through the activities described below is a high priority of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project.
Advocating for a Strong Federal Regulation on the Duty to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing
On July 19, 2013, HUD published a Proposed Rule on the duty to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). The Proposed Rule clarifies the definition of AFFH, revamps the fair housing planning process by replacing the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI) with the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), coordinates fair housing planning with other planning efforts, and requires robust public participation in the fair housing planning process. On September 17, 2013, the Lawyers’ Committee submitted a comment letter in support of the Proposed Rule. Lawyers’ Committee affiliates, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Mississippi Center for Justice, joined the letter. Click here to read the comment letter. Click here to read the comment letter and click here to read the Lawyers’ Committee’s press release on the Proposed Rule.
Following the close of the comment period, the Fair Housing & Community Development Project undertook a review of comment letters submitted by three categories of groups: civil rights organizations, housing and community development organizations, and groups that were critical of the Proposed Rule.
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing at HUD: A First Term Report Card
This March 2013 report is the second installment of a two-part review of HUD’s efforts to implement its obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. One month earlier, the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) released a review of HUD housing programs, titled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing at HUD: A First Term Report Card (Part I: HUD Housing Programs).” The present report, produced by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The National Fair Housing Alliance, and PRRAC, takes the next step and looks at HUD’s record of enforcement of the affirmatively furthering obligation among state and local governments (and public housing agencies) receiving HUD funds.
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center – Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is dedicated to fighting housing discrimination in the greater New Orleans area. In December 2011, GNOFHAC and the Lawyers’ Committee released the “People’s Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing in New Orleans.” The report provides the City with guidance on how to complete an effective AI, critiques the City’s current AI, and provides a set of recommendations for moving forward. As a result of the efforts of GNOFHAC, the Lawyers’ Committee, and several local partners, the City has agreed to work with these groups to draft a new AI.
In April 2011, GNOFHAC and the Lawyers’ Committee jointly released a handbook entitled “Strategies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Proposals for the City of New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) and Beyond” to address impediments to fair housing in New Orleans. The handbook recommends strategies to the City Planning Commission as it re-drafts New Orleans’ comprehensive zoning ordinance, to ensure a more just, economically integrated, and livable New Orleans. Strategies include inclusionary zoning and a procedure for developers of supportive housing to request reasonable accommodations. The City Planning Commission will release the next draft of the CZO shortly. Click here to visit GNOFHAC’s website.
Huntington, New York Administrative Complaint
In addition to the ongoing litigation in federal court, the Lawyers’ Committee also filed an administrative complaint against the Town of Huntington, New York with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on March 3, 2011. The complaint focused on the Town’s long history of housing discrimination and its failure to affirmatively further fair housing as required by Section 808 of the Fair Housing Act. That complaint is being investigated by HUD. Click here to read the administrative complaint and here to read more about the litigation against the Town of Huntington.
Publications & Resources