HUD Strings, Complicated and Evolving in RI

file000993913392_by_clarita_sm.jpgNational Housing Experts tell PolitiFact about HUD money . . .

I wouldnt say theyve ceded total control.  I would say they have obligations.

Its illegal to use local zoning power to maintain segregation

Historically, the Fair Housing Act has been enforced weakly. ... Theyre doing more than has been done in the past.

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Property Rights Alliance of RI (PRARI) wishes to thank you for taking the time to respond to our emails and hope you will continue to consider the ramifications of the adoption of RhodeMap RI.  We appreciate the opportunity to continue this important dialogue.

You may have seen the recent Politifact article regarding Mr. Flynn’s statement:

“There’s nothing in the [RhodeMap RI] plan that takes away local government control and local zoning control”

- Kevin Flynn, RI Division of Planning

Politifact contacted national housing law experts and concluded that while “there is nothing in the plan’s language that appears to compromise local zoning law or control, his Flynn's] statement doesn't acknowledge the strings attached to the HUD grant."   Flynn’s claim was "partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context".

This is precisely we at what PRARI have been warning – the strings attached to HUD money when you sign a contract with HUD and you certify that you will be in compliance with Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).  Increasingly more aggressive enforcement measures of AFFH compliance have recently led to law suits against Westchester County and Dallas.  In previous emails, we included links to documents relating to the Westchester County case.  We urge you to read the letter sent by HUD to Westchester.  The letter is in response to Westchester County’s 500+ page analysis of the zoning ordinances in the County’s 43 municipalities concluding that they believe themselves to be in compliance with AFFH.

It’s Not About Past HUD Practices, It’s HUD’s Evolving Interpretation of AFFH.

More recently, HUD issued a draft of what they call their "Fair Housing Assessment Tool" created initially for entitlement communities, but ultimately to become the benchmark for information required by all communities accepting CDBG funds.  The 15-page document is intended to create a set of criteria by which jurisdictions/municipalities will submit detailed information about how they are "affirmatively" planning for housing desegregation based on the statistics of population groups within neighborhoods.  Yes, that’s at the neighborhood level by census tract data, and not at the the municipal level.

PRARI has spent the last 3 months laying out our own road map leading to the conclusion that RhodeMap RI is perhaps the single most damaging policy to be imposed on Rhode Islanders in recent history.

Recent Actions in Opposition to RhodeMap RI.

At the opening of this General Assembly session, a bipartisan coalition of Senators sponsored a bill to exempt E. Greenwich, Coventry, and W. Greenwich from RhodeMap RI.  That coalition included Senators Raptakis (D), Kettle (R), Morgan (R), Cote (D) and O’Neill (I).  The House Republican Caucus issued a press release announcing that it would be submitting legislation to free municipalities from having to incorporate RhodeMap RI into their own comprehensive plans.

One quarter of RI’s municipalities have formally opposed RhodeMap RI. The Town of Johnston was the most recent council to pass a resolution opposing RhodeMap RI.  In addition, Johnston Mayor Polisena joined the ranks of the executive branches opposing RhodeMap RI.  Numerous councils are seriously considering rejecting CDBG funds for the very reason that the strings attached may simply be too costly.  We fully expect that there will be more municipalities reaching the same conclusion about RhodeMap RI. 

We hope your community weighs the risks associated with HUD money when deciding whether to accept or reject CDBG funds or deciding if there are enough signs to warrant formal opposition to RhodeMap RI.

Stay Informed, Understand the HUD Strings, Take Action.

We would be happy to provide you with more information and ask that you consider having PRARI volunteer and HUD expert, Gary Morse, present the facts to your city/town council.  We have included a link to a previous presentation here, along with the subsequent Q & A session. Contact us now at the email below to arrange for a presentation at your next meeting.

Related Web Page: Why we oppose RhodeMap RI

Cordially,

The Volunteers of PRARI

prarI@cedwickmail.com
(Right click to copy email address)


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