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New York suing HUD, Ben Carson to enforce Obama fair housing rule

State joins fair housing advocates lawsuit against Trump administration

The state of New York is moving to join a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson over the Trump administration recently moving to delay a controversial Obama-era fair housing rule.

Earlier this year, HUD announced that it intended to delay the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. The rule, passed during the Obama administration, requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias and design a plan to address any measurable bias.

But according to former HUD Secretary Julián Castro and a number of fair housing advocates, delaying the rule by one year is tantamount to repealing the rule altogether.

As a result, last week, several civil rights groups, led by the National Fair Housing Alliance, sued HUD and Carson over the delay of the rule.

Now, another former Democratic HUD secretary is leading New York’s effort to force HUD to implement the rule as originally established.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who served as HUD secretary from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, announced Monday that New York is joining the fair housing advocates’ lawsuit against the Trump administration.

“As a former HUD Secretary, it is unconscionable to me that the agency entrusted to protect against housing discrimination is abdicating its responsibility, and New York will not stand by and allow the federal government to undo decades of progress in housing rights,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The right to rent or buy housing free from discrimination is fundamental under the law, and we must do everything in our power to protect those rights and fight segregation in our communities.”

According to Cuomo’s office, New York is the first state to move to force the Trump administration to enforce the Obama administration’s fair housing rule.

Cuomo’s office said that by delaying the implementation of the AFFH rule, HUD “effectively quit on its obligation to provide civil rights oversight for as much as $5.5 billion per year in the funding that is distributed to over 40 jurisdictions in New York and almost 1,000 jurisdictions across the country.”

According to Cuomo’s office, New York has “concrete interests” in this “critical civil rights” lawsuit.

“The State’s motion to join the case will establish that the Fair Housing Act requires HUD to administer its programs in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing and, by suspending the AFFH Rule’s requirements, that HUD has abdicated this statutory requirement for years to come,” Cuomo’s office stated. “Specifically, the suspension of the AFFH Rule is unlawful because HUD failed to follow federal law requiring notice and public comment and failed to provide sufficient justification for the suspension the AFFH Rule’s requirements.”

Cuomo’s office stated that New York’s motion to intervene will provide evidence that delaying the AFFH rule is an example of HUD failing to appropriately enforce the Fair Housing Act and that the delay will harm New York residents.

“Fifty years ago, the Fair Housing Act was signed into law, banning housing discrimination. Yet the Trump administration is now delaying a critical rule requiring state and local governments to address segregated housing as a condition of federal funding," New York Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement. “This is yet another effort by the Trump Administration to take our country—and our state—backwards, and we intend to join a lawsuit to block this unlawful action.”

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