The Justice Department announced today that the City of Arlington, Texas, has agreed to pay $395,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging that it violated the Fair Housing Act when it refused to support an affordable housing development that would have served low-income families with children.
“Local governments that resort to discriminatory tactics to block the development of affordable housing and to lock out families with children will be held accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement should send a strong message to jurisdictions across the country that we will use the law to protect families with children from discriminatory denials of housing opportunities.”
“Under the Fair Housing Act, cities cannot discriminate against families with children – nor can they discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), religion or disability,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham for the Northern District of Texas. “This law is just as important now as it was when it was passed more than 50 years ago, and we are committed to upholding it.”
The settlement, which still must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, resolves a lawsuit filed today alleging that the City violated federal law in connection with an affordable housing development in 2017. Specifically, the suit alleges that the City violated the Fair Housing Act when it blocked the development of an affordable housing project proposed by Community Development Inc. (CDI), that would have been financed by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). As alleged in the lawsuit, such tax credits are awarded by the State of Texas on a competitive basis, and it is very difficult for new developments to obtain tax credits unless they receive a Resolution of Support or a Resolution of No Objection from the local government. The lawsuit alleges that the City declined to issue such a resolution for CDI’s development because the City had a policy of supporting LIHTC developments only for senior housing intended for persons 55 years or older. As a result, CDI’s proposed housing for families with children did not receive tax credits and it was not developed.
CDI filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging that the City’s conduct discriminated against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act. After an investigation, HUD determined that the City had violated the statute and referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
“Families with children deserve to have equal access to affordable housing opportunities, and the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for local governments to discriminate based on familial status,” said Damon Smith, General Counsel of HUD. “HUD commends the Department of Justice for reaching this resolution and will continue to hold government entities accountable when they violate the Fair Housing Act.”
Under the settlement, the City will pay $395,000 to CDI. The settlement also requires the City to maintain a non-discriminatory policy for future LIHTC developments, provide Fair Housing Act training to certain city officials, and submit to compliance and reporting requirements for the term of the settlement.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status (having one or more children under 18), national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.
Individuals who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination should contact the Department of Justice toll-free at 1-833-591-0291, by email at email@example.com, or submit a report online at www.civilrights.justice.gov. Such individuals may also contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.