Statement on Texas Department Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc
June 25, 2015
While TDHCA would have preferred a ruling from the Supreme Court that the Fair Housing Act did not support the novel cause of action brought by the plaintiff (non-intentional race discrimination by a housing authority), we are fully prepared to return to the trial court to make our case that there has, in fact, been no actionable disparate impact discrimination by TDHCA under the clarified standards set out by the Court in their opinion. TDHCA remains committed to its mission of providing affordable housing options to low-income Texans, and as Justice Kennedy stated in the Court’s opinion in today’s ruling, “[t]his case, on remand, may be seen simply as an attempt to second-guess which of two reasonable approaches a housing authority should follow in the sound exercise of its discretion in allocating tax credits for low-income housing . . . The litigation at issue here provides an example. From the standpoint of determining advantage or disadvantage to racial minorities, it seems difficult to say as a general matter that a decision to build low-income housing in a blighted inner-city neighborhood instead of a suburb is discriminatory, or vice versa.”
Mindful of today’s Supreme Court decision, TDHCA will continue to develop and refine the 2016 Qualified Allocation Plan – the rules governing the award of low income housing tax credits – in a manner that complies with the letter and spirit of the law, permits private parties to make rational, nondiscriminatory business decisions, and furthers the priorities established and re-examined by the Texas Legislature each session and approved by the Governor.
TDHCA Executive Director
Statement on the Cameron and Willacy Counties Community Projects, Inc
On May 7, 2015, the Governing Board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (“TDHCA”) approved a staff recommendation to award a contract to Community Action Corporation of South Texas (“CACST”) to provide weatherization and energy assistance services to residents of Cameron and Willacy counties with Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (“LIHEAP”), and Weatherization Assistance Program (“WAP”) funds, both of which were previously operated by Cameron and Willacy Counties Community Projects, Inc. (“CWCCP”).
Funding to CWCCP had not been awarded because a recent monitoring visit resulted in concerns over CWCCP’s financial management processes that related to the potential use of federal funds in a manner that resulted in disallowed costs, in addition to a number of other issues relating to the agency’s financial and management processes.
CACST committed to provide the energy assistance services on an interim basis. The Department took these steps to ensure the income-eligible households of Cameron and Willacy counties would not experience an interruption to these critical utility payment assistance funds for area residents.
The Department’s Board also directed staff to take steps toward identifying a permanent replacement provider to provide WAP and CEAP services in the area so that no further delay in utility payment assistance would occur through the increasingly warmer months should CWCCP’s issues continue.
To be clear, this Board action does not create any loss in funds to the area. To the contrary, it ensures these funds will be used in these two counties as intended. The action does not impact CWCCP’s eligible entity status and ability to receive funds through TDHCA’s Community Services Block Grant Program.
TDHCA Executive Director
Statement on the Urban League of Greater Dallas
On May 7, 2015, the Governing Board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (“TDHCA”) approved a staff recommendation to award the Urban League of Greater Dallas (“ULGD”) a 2015 contract for the Community Service Block Grant Program. The Board action further provides for an immediate suspension of this contract, including the suspension of additional funding, until several conditions stated in the Board’s action can be satisfactorily fulfilled. ULGD was given a deadline of May 27th to meet these conditions.
The Department has a number of concerns regarding ULGD’s fiscal and management processes and controls. These concerns initially centered on ULGD’s single audits for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, both of which contained unresolved findings. The 2013 audit was submitted eight months after the federal deadline.
Should ULGD fail to satisfy the conditions by May 27, 2015, the Department will determine whether to provide additional time for ULGD to achieve compliance or to provide adequate notice as specified in state and federal regulations that would initiate proceedings to remove ULGD’s eligible entity status under the Community Service Block Grant Program.
TDHCA’s Board and staff did not take this action lightly. However, to leave this situation unresolved not only limits the degree to which residents of Dallas County can be served but also places TDHCA and ULGD at risk of action by the federal funding agency for failure to enforce required program guidelines, a financial risk to the State that the Department is not willing to accept.
TDHCA Executive Director
For more information, please contact Kristina Tirloni at (512) 475-4743.