ICP v. U.S. Department of the Treasury & OCC Case Moves Forward

Picture of U.S. Treasury Department Seal

On October 28, 2016, the District Court for the Northern District of Texas permitted the Inclusive Communities Project’s (ICP) case against the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to move forward.  The District Court did so by denying the government’s motion to dismiss ICP’s claims against the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for intentional discrimination and violations of the Fair Housing Act.  The Court granted the motion to dismiss on ICP’s disparate impact claim.

ICP assists low income families of color who use federal housing choice vouchers and seek affordable housing in safe, better resourced, higher opportunity areas located outside historically segregated neighborhoods where conditions of slum and blight prevail.  The housing developed under the low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program serves as an important resource for such home seekers because, under federal law, these developments cannot discriminate against voucher holders. As such, ICP counselors expend fewer resources when these types of rental units are available for families and families gain access to non-segregated housing that suits their families’ needs.

To date the defendants have administered the LIHTC program in the Dallas area in a manner that (a) perpetuates segregation and the concentration of voucher holders of color in minority-concentrated, high poverty areas of slum and blight, (b) denies voucher families access to housing in better resourced, higher opportunity, non-minority concentrated areas, and (c) does not affirmatively further the goals of the Fair Housing Act.

The Treasury Department administers the federal LIHTC program.  The OCC regulates the banks that are permitted by law to own LIHTC developments only if the agency determines that their developments will promote the public welfare.  ICP alleges that concentrating low income housing in high poverty, racially concentrated areas of slum and blight does not promote the public welfare.  In denying the defendants’ motion, the Court found that ICP had plausibly alleged discriminatory intent under the equal protection provision of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1982, and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a).

For information about how the housing choice voucher program works, visit http://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/policy-basics-the-housing-choice-voucher-program.  To learn more about the LIHTC program, see https://nhlp.org/lihtcintro.  Follow ICP’s Knowledge is Power Blog to view the court’s decision and get updates about this case and other ICP activity.