Another community has rejected HUD's AFFH once they discovered their increased legal liabilities. It was good to see residents and public officials working together for the interests of the community.
Also, you will not believe what your realtor CANNOT say in our second article, "Realtors' Dilemma - When Civil Rights Squash ...Civil Rights!"
Yet Again! PhD and Public Officials Stop Another HUD AFFH
Wayne Township, NJ is the latest community to reject future HUD grants. Their experience provides a lesson for other jurisdictions.
Wayne Township has been a direct recipient of HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for several years and planned to renew their application for the future. Grant applicants routinely agree to affirmatively further fair housing as a precondition to receiving the funds.
Until citizens spoke up, Wayne officials were unaware that in July 2015, HUD altered both the requirements necessary to affirmatively further fair housing, and their enforcement techniques against violators.
Township officials did not change their mind because alarmist citizens shouted down their plans. Quite the opposite. Well-informed residents of Wayne presented the council with researched facts, supporting data and examples of other jurisdictions that were forced to comply with HUD against community wishes.
After listening to their constituents, the council members conducted their own research. During the lengthy process, a bond of trust developed between officials and community members.
It was in this environment that the council members ultimately rejected future grant money as too risky.
Local resident, Dr. Al Frech, spearheaded much of the joint work and met frequently with the council members over several months. On September 7, 2016, the Mayor officially rejected any future HUD funds involving AFFH. You can see their comments in the video below.
(Go to the following time marks for remarks related to AFFH)
(32:59-34:19 Mayor speaks on CDBG)
(34:36-36:50 Council member omments re: Mayor's remarks)
(44:17-49:29 Dr. Frech )
(49:48 Council President Comment.)
Two important questions -
Two important questions emerged during the learning process. Why would HUD’s AFFH require massive community re-engineering to forward efforts like economic integration and upward mobility, when the programs are often experimental or based on mixed prior results and inconclusive studies? Why has HUD exceeded their authority under the Fair Housing Act, regardless of good intentions?
The answer lies in the word “regionalism.”
HUD, DOT and the EPA have been instrumental in fostering regionalism since 1993. In 2009, the three agencies formed a “Partnership for Sustainable Development” for the express purpose of merging their unique authorities toward the common goal of advancing sustainable regions. In June 2016, the agency also teamed with the Department of Education to promote regional Equity Assistance Centers to advance income integration in elementary and secondary classrooms.
These agencies are working feverishly to infill suburbs by transplanting urban families into the outlying communities, which then merge with nearby counties and towns into larger regions managed by unelected councils.
Even HUD’s new Assessment of Fair Housing, the document applicants must complete to receive AFFH related grants, requires grant recipients to align their local plan with a regional plan.
From a planning standpoint, this model eliminates issues of local zoning and land use laws, local public officials’ resistance and the not in my backyard (NIMBY) syndrome.
Many public officials are not aware that this process also strips away local rule and undermines voter preferences.
I urge you to listen to Dr. Frech at 44:17 to 49:29 time segments on the accompanying video as he responds to these issues.
As Wayne Township Councilman Jonathan Ettman said, “It shows you how important it is for the public to take part in these meetings.” Their participation “led to additional research and investigation” on our part.”
Wayne Township is a fine example of what happens when community members work closely with their public officials to keep everyone informed.