In what promises to be a controversial vote at the nation’s Capitol, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is introducing an amendment to the Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bill defunding implementation of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule.
Under the regulation, in October HUD will be empowered to condition eligibility for community development block grants on redrawing zoning maps to create evenly distributed neighborhoods based on racial composition and income.
“American citizens should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to neighborhood engineering and gerrymandering at the behest of an overreaching federal government,” Rep. Gosar said.
“Local zoning decisions should be made by local communities, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.,” he declared.
Now, Gosar is getting a big push from conservative groups behind his legislation, which should be voted on Tuesday.
“Rep. Gosar deserves the thanks of all Americans for his courage in taking on this backdoor attempt to federalize our most basic living decisions. Americans for Limited Government strongly supports Gosar’s amendment to defund racial quotas in local zoning decisions,” said Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens.
In 2012, HUD dispersed about $3.8 billion of these grants to almost 1,200 municipalities. These range from the rather small — Nashua, N.H. received $583,000 that year. To the rather large — New York City received $210.9 million of the grants.
“HUD has no place in local zoning decisions,” said Mehrens, adding, “Under federalism, that is left up to states, counties and municipalities to determine for themselves. At a time when the Supreme Court is roundly rejecting racial quotas as unconstitutional, there is no place for wasting taxpayer dollars on social engineering that will never withstand judicial scrutiny.”
A trial run for the rule has already occurred in Westchester County, N.Y., where the department has attempted to rezone the area as a condition for receiving millions of dollars in grants.
County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, to his credit simply rejected the receipt of $5 million of grants from 2012. Westchester lost out on some $7 million of grants from 2011 for the same reason.
“It is unfortunate that HUD, which claims to champion the needy, once again is threatening to withhold funds for affordable housing,” said Astorino spokesman Ned McCormack in April. “But the county is not going to turn over control of the local zoning of its six cities, 19 towns and 20 villages to bureaucrats in Washington for $5 million in grants.”
HUD was demanding that the county build 750 units of affordable housing in 31 more affluent communities.
The opposite story can be found in Aurora, Ill. where the department has successfully shaken local officials down to develop a minimum of 100 new affordable housing units.
The supposed violations of the Fair Housing Act were cited after the apartment complex at Jericho Circle was demolished and the Aurora Housing Authority had planned to pursue a scattered-site redevelopment plan.
It would appear HUD is already implementing the regulation and engaging in rezoning localities even though it has not even been finalized yet.
Which, although outrageous, is not at all surprising from an Obama administration that picks and chooses when it wants to follow the law.
In this case, supposed housing discrimination in cities and towns is being used a pretext to nationalize local zoning decisions to be determined by faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
In the meantime, the regulation will not actually do a thing to stop real housing discrimination, ALG’s Mehrens noted, concluding, “Housing discrimination based on race has been illegal since the 1960s, and people should be allowed to choose for themselves where they live without D.C. bureaucrats nationalizing zoning decisions for political reasons.”
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.