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Arlington to pay almost $400K in case alleging housing discrimination against families with children

FILE - This May 4, 2021 file photo shows a sign outside the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice building in Washington. President Joe Biden is nominating eight new leaders for U.S. attorney positions across the country, including in the office overseeing the prosecutions of hundreds of defendants charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The nominees announced by the White House on Monday come as the Justice Department is continuing to round out its leadership team under Attorney General Merrick Garland, who traveled to Chicago last week to announce an initiative to crack down on gun trafficking corridors. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/AP
Justice Department lawyers alleged that the City of Arlington violating the Fair Housing Act when it blocked the development of a housing project that would have served families with children.

The City of Arlington has agreed to pay almost $400,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging it violated federal housing law by refusing to support a housing development that would have served low-income families with children.

The Justice Department announced the settlement late Thursday, after the federal lawsuit had been filed earlier that day.

Justice Department officials said the settlement sends a strong message.

“Local governments that resort to discriminatory tactics to block the development of affordable housing and to lock out families with children will be held accountable,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. She heads the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The City of Arlington denied any violations of law and asserted in a statement that council members "had numerous reasons why the project did not meet the City’s criteria for safe and decent housing, unrelated to whether the citizens who might reside in the project were seniors or families with children."

While disputing the validity of the complaint, the statement continued, "the City believes it is in the best interest of the City and its citizens to resolve the disagreement amicably in order to focus on providing City services instead of costly litigation."

Thelawsuit had alleged that Arlington violated the Fair Housing Act by blocking an affordable housing project proposed by Community Development Inc., a private nonprofit organization that develops affordable housing. The project was to be financed by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), according to a Justice Department statement.

According to the Justice Department statement, “such tax credits are awarded by the State of Texas on a competitive basis, and it is very difficult for new developments to obtain tax credits unless they receive a Resolution of Support or a Resolution of No Objection from the local government.”

The lawsuit alleged that an Arlington’s policy supported LIHTC-supported developments only for housing intended for senior residents.

“Under the Fair Housing Act, cities cannot discriminate against families with children – nor can they discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), religion or disability,” Chad E. Meacham, acting U.S. Attorney for Northern District of Texas, said in the statement. “This law is just as important now as it was when it was passed more than 50 years ago, and we are committed to upholding it.”

The allegations that Arlington violated fair housing law go back to 2017. CDI had filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD later concluded that Arlington had violated the Fair Housing Act and referred the case to the Justice Department.

CDI will be paid $395,000 under the terms of the settlement. And, according to the Justice Department statement, the city is required to "maintain a non-discriminatory policy for future LIHTC developments, provide Fair Housing Act training to certain city officials, and submit to compliance and reporting requirements for the term of the settlement."

The settlement must be approved by a Northern District of Texas federal judge.

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