Fair Housing Group Challenges Town's Lack of Affordable Housing
Facts: The Inclusive Communities Project (ICP), a nonprofit fair housing group in Dallas, went to court alleging that the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, violated the Fair Housing Act by systematically blocking the creation of affordable rental housing. According to ICP, the town refuses to develop Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) rental housing in the community. ICP also claims that the town's zoning plan limits the number of low-income units to only 4 percent of all housing units in Flower Mound. ICP estimated that in 2000, there were only 99 affordable low-income-occupied units in Flower Mound. The population that uses multifamily housing in the Dallas area is disproportionately non-white, compared to the population that lives in single-family housing, so the town's limitation on the number of apartments disproportionately harms non-white households. In addition, existing multifamily complexes in Flower Mound do not accept the Section 8 vouchers ICP clients typically use. The town asked the court to dismiss the case.
Decision: A United States Magistrate Judge decided that the case should go forward. The town must answer ICP's charges in further proceedings.
Reasoning: The judge disagreed with the town's claim that ICP had no right to bring the charges under the technical requirements of the fair housing law. The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful “[t]o refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” The judge concluded that the town's refusal to work with ICP in developing tax-credit housing could have a racially discriminatory effect. The town's actions, in making housing unavailable to ICP's clients, may have furthered racial segregation in Flower Mound. The town may have considered race in deciding not to allow low-income housing units in Flower Mound, so ICP may proceed with its case.
- Inclusive Communities Project v. Town of Flower Mound, July 2009
- Fair Housing Act: 42 U.S.C. §3604
EDITOR'S NOTE: Managers of LIHTC housing cannot decline a rental application simply because the applicant uses a voucher. See 26 U.S.C. §42(h)(6)(B)(iv).