Kyle, Texas Ruling a Temporary Setback for Fair Housing
Despite a court ruling on April 2 that is a temporary setback for fair housing, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and NAHB have vowed that they will continue to push for state and local housing policies that enhance housing opportunity for all families.
The NAACP, the Austin Branch of the NAACP, the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin and NAHB had brought a lawsuit against the City of Kyle, Texas, claiming that the municipality’s new development and building requirements pushed up the cost of housing, with a disproportionate impact on low-income minority families.
Deciding the case, Judge Lee Yeakel last week ruled that “a dollar impact on home construction costs alone” does not establish a case of discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act.
“While we are disappointed in today’s ruling, we are committed more than ever to work with the NAACP and ensure that government actions do not deny safe, decent and affordable housing for all people,” said Jerry Howard, NAHB’s president and chief executive officer.
“It is very important to recognize that Judge Yeakel allowed the home building associations to bring fair housing claims in court,” Howard said. “He never ruled that our case was not well-founded. In fact, the judge stated that the Fair Housing Act prohibits municipalities from using their zoning powers in a discriminatory manner.”
Zoning and subdivision ordinances adopted by the City of Kyle in 2005 created many costly requirements and increased the minimum living area of a home by 20% and its lot size by almost 14%. These rules are significantly more restrictive than previous requirements and have the unquestionable effect of pushing up the cost of housing.
“The NAACP, NAHB and the HBA initiated this litigation only as a last resort,” Howard said. “On repeated occasions, we expressed our concerns to the city about the impact of its ordinances under the Fair Housing Act. We attended public hearings, submitted comment letters, conducted studies and held press conferences. As a final measure before we filed suit, we even voluntarily sent the city a lengthy notice letter — not required by the Fair Housing Act — to put them on notice that legal action would follow if they were not willing to sit down and start a dialogue with us. Every step of the way, they turned a deaf ear to our concerns,” Howard said.
The case was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin.
For more information, e-mail Mary Lynn Huett at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8485.