- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

HOUSTON (AP) - The federal housing agency says Houston’s procedures for approving some low-income housing perpetuate segregation and violate the Civil Rights Act.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also says racially motivated opposition from residents convinced Mayor Sylvester Turner to reject a housing project in the city’s affluent Galleria area.

The findings were disclosed in a 14-page letter this past week that blames the city for “blocking and deterring affordable housing proposals in integrated neighborhoods,” the Houston Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/2ipqSXu ). The department also is mandating the city fix its procedures.

Housing and Urban Development opened an investigation into possible violations of the Civil Rights Act after Turner, the city’s African-American mayor, last August declined to sign off on the development the city housing authority called the Fountain View housing project. The act bars recipients of federal money from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin.

Turner said “costs and other concerns” prompted his decision. He said he strongly disagreed with the federal housing agency’s findings. The 233-unit, $53 million project would have been the agency’s first in Houston in a low-crime area with good schools.

“The city’s refusal to issue a resolution of no objection for Fountain View was motivated either in whole or in part by the race, color, or national origin of the likely tenants,” Garry Sweeney, director of the department’s Fort Worth’s regional office of fair housing and equal opportunity, wrote in the letter to Turner. “More generally, the department finds that the city’s procedures for approving Low-Income Housing Tax Credit applications are influenced by racially motivated opposition to affordable housing and perpetuate segregation.”

The mayor told the newspaper on Friday he would use “all available avenues to challenge their findings.”

“We are taking a hard look at the letter, but there should be no misunderstanding about my commitment to providing options for low income families,” Turner said.

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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