A Court Case Regarding City Zoning and Discrimination
On January 18, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. City of Arlington (N.D. Tex.). The complaint, filed on January 13, 2022, alleged that the City of Arlington, Texas violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by discriminating on the basis of familial status when it blocked the development of an affordable housing project for families with children that had been proposed by a developer, Community Development, Inc. (CDI), and would have been financed using federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). The complaint alleged that the City refused to issue a Resolution of Support or a Resolution of No Objection to CDI because the City had a policy of supporting LIHTC developments only for new senior housing intended for persons 55 years of age or older. Under the consent order, the City will pay $395,000 in damages to CDI, maintain a non-discrimination policy for future LIHTC developments, provide Fair Housing Act training to certain city officials, and submit to compliance and reporting requirements for three years. This case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
Press Release (1/13/2022)
Case Open Date: Friday, January 21, 2022
Case Name: United States v. City of Arlington (N.D. Tex.)
Tags: Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968; FHA; HUD; Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; senior housing; pattern or practice; familial status
Industry Code: None
Component: Civil Rights Division
Civil Rights – Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Case Documents: Complaint – United States v. City of Arlington (N.D. Tex.); Consent Decree – United States v. City of Arlington (N.D. Tex.)
Familial status discrimination often takes the form of steering practices or overly restrictive community rules for children. However, in this case, the Government alleged that the City refused to issue a Resolution of Support or a Resolution of No Objection to CDI to a developer, which made it very difficult or maybe impossible for the developer to be approved for tax credit funding. They alleged that the City had a policy of only supporting tax credit developments for senior housing. If the City’s actions in denying the developer the necessary support were taken based on the fact that the new development would be a family property, this is a violation of the Fair Housing Act based on the Act’s protection of families with children. In many cities around the county, the need for more affordable housing options is dire, and if a City stands in the way of these developments (or really any type of housing development) due to the type of tenants these properties may house, it is likely just a matter of time before this practice is identified and challenged.
These types of cases have commonly been brought against municipalities based on their failure to approve development or zoning requests allegedly due to the race or disability status of the future residents. However, as this case shows, acting adversely due to any protected class is a violation, and claims that allege a City maintained a policy, pattern, or practice of doing so may result in significant damages as this settlement did here.
Whether it’s an entire municipality or a small company, seeking the advice of a fair housing attorney is critical to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.