Fair Housing Advocates React to Rescinded Regulation

Fair housing law remains but enforcement relaxed

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North Texas fair housing advocates are concerned about the announcement from President Donald Trump that an Obama regulation about enforcement has been removed.

At the White House Friday, the President spoke about the change.

“We ended a rule that was a very horrible rule for people in suburbia, in the suburbs. And that rule has been a very unfair rule for a long time,” Trump said.

On Twitter Wednesday, Trump said people living their “Suburban Lifestyle Dream” would no longer be bothered with low-income housing.  He said home values would go up and crime would go down.

In Southern Dallas, resident Darryl Baker was concerned that continuing old patterns of low-income housing development would harm property values for owners in his neighborhood.

“We’ve done our part. We’ve done our part for the past 30 years. It’s North Dallas who hasn’t done their part,” Baker said.

He lives in a townhome development near the site of a new proposed tax-credit apartment complex that would set aside units for people with low to moderate-income.

“We've got 16 of these just in my council district,” Baker said.

He said the proposed tax-credit apartment site is zoned for townhomes. Baker said townhomes promote homeownership and his area needs townhomes, but not another tax-credit apartment complex.

For years, Dallas fair housing advocates have been pushing to get more affordable housing built in North Dallas, closer to jobs that people have reaching from Southern Dallas.

“It’s not just a City of Dallas issue, it is an entire DFW regional issue,” said Demetria McCain with the Inclusive Communities Project.

The 1968 Fair Housing Act could not be removed without an act of Congress. What the President did remove is an Obama-era rule that imposed extra reporting requirements on local governments to demonstrate progress against housing discrimination.

“The statutory requirement for cities and towns and other arms of government to affirmatively further fair housing has not been repealed,” McCain said. “Essentially it rolled back the duty, the obligation for a lot of the cities, counties and towns who get federal money from HUD from having to actually report what it is they are doing to abide by that statutory requirement.”

McCain said the change certainly relates to city of Dallas oversight on the placement of tax credit apartment projects and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.

“People have been trying to skirt around it for a very long time. It doesn't make enforcement easy, let me put it that way,” McCain said.

Over the years, developers have said that land is cheaper in Southern Dallas and the rules for tax-credit apartment deals made transactions financially feasible there.

Darryl Baker is watching to see if this change helps get another one built in his area.

“There was 100% objection by the homeowners and residents in that area,” Baker said.

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