A federal judge just gave low-income Americans the Christmas gift they deserve with a ruling that will be like coal in the stockings of President Trump and his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.
Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell declared that beginning January 1st, Carson’s department must implement an Obama administration rule that helps people in poverty afford housing in areas with better schools, jobs, and opportunity.
The regulation was originally scheduled to take effect at that time, but after Secretary Carson took over the leadership of HUD, the agency declared that it would delay its implementation for two years for further evaluation.
Civil rights groups, including the Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit against the decision and Judge Howell ruled against HUD yesterday, saying that the agency did not offer:
“notice and comment or particularized evidentiary findings” to substantiate delaying the rule, according to a report on ThinkProgress.
The new regulation, titled The Small Area Fair Market Rent rule, changes the formula used for the section 8 housing vouchers that subsidize rents in the private real estate market to allow the poor and the elderly to afford an alternative to scarce public housing resources. While the old system based subsidies on citywide formulas, the new rule bases subsidies on zip code data that better reflects the rent disparities between different neighborhoods.
According to ThinkProgress:
“The new formula empowers voucher holders — who are disproportionately African-American — to afford housing in more affluent areas, which see more job opportunities, lower crime rates, and better schools. The rule goes into effect in 23 metropolitan areas and should not cost the administration any more money.”
The defeat of Carson’s delay of the regulation means that the more affluent not-in-my-backyard residents of many communities may soon be experiencing an economic integration that they were not expecting. For the beneficiaries of the Section 8 vouchers, however, the move means that they may finally be able to escape crime-ridden neighborhoods with inferior schools and crumbling infrastructure for a safer, more opportunistic environment that can help them break the endless cycle of poverty.
And that’s a Christmas gift worth giving.