Whistle-Blowers Claim City Misused Housing Money

Federal dough meant for affordable housing went to downtown.

In order for a local government entity to get its hands on federal housing money, it is required to formally certify every time it does so that it is doing something called "affirmatively furthering fair housing." The feds even have an abbreviation for it — AFFH. If you take the money, you have to certify you are using it to AFFH. You have to swear you are an AFFHer.

AFFH is all about desegregation. Westchester County tried to argue it had used the money to promote economic diversity and that should be enough. The judge said in an order, "an interpretation of 'affirmatively further fair housing' that excludes consideration of race would be an absurd result."

They didn't fight the Civil War to end poverty. They fought it to end slavery. All of the civil rights-oriented law since then has been about racism. In order to AFFH, you have to promote desegregation.

So let me give you one small example of how Dallas City Hall has used the federal government's money. In the late 1990s the city borrowed $25 million in Section 108 housing money from HUD at very low interest, then lent it out again to downtown developers. The city used other federal money, called community development block grant or "CDBG" money, to make the payments on its loan from HUD.

Borrow money from the feds. Use the feds' own money to pay the feds back. Sweet, eh?

Lorlee Bartos, who was on the CDBG board at the time, complained to the city that the loan payments were eating up a lot of the CDBG money, which was supposed to go to people in need.

"I said, 'You are developing downtown on the backs of the poor,'" she told me last week.

Not to worry, the city told her. The developers will have to pay back it back to the CDBG fund with interest, and meanwhile they are required to provide affordable housing in their projects.

But in fact, as the developments were completed, the city let them out of their loans for 60 cents on the dollar and then ruled that they were no longer required to provide affordable units.

The CDBG fund got stiffed. It never got its money back. All that federal money produced next-to-nothing in the way of rent-controlled units. And it turns out the city should have required the developers to provide affordable units anyway because the requirement was still in deed restrictions that ran for 15 years no matter what happened to the loans.

In other words, the city in effect leaned over backward to make sure the federal housing money it was taking would not produce affordable housing downtown. If we were to do an abbreviation for that, it would be AFSBGAFM — affirmatively furthering segregation by giving away federal money.

This is one relatively small example. The lawsuit goes into the whole Don Hill federal corruption trial saga, in which the city was cramming affordable housing into black neighborhoods while it built nothing in white areas. Please.

Someone is going to say, "But that's what former Dallas City Councilman Don Hill, an African-American elected leader, wanted the city to do. He wanted the new affordable units to be built in his district, which is black."

Yeah? I ask one question. Where does Hill live now? In the pen. The big house. Up the river for 18 years. And let's not forget the other African-American leaders who fought to shut down the white guy who wanted to bring 65,000 new jobs to their part of town. They haven't joined Mr. Hill yet, but they have FBI agents kicking their doors right and left.

Line down the middle. White. Black. Bad.

That's what this lawsuit says. It paints a big bull's-eye on City Hall. The top estimate I have heard for potential damages — usually figured at three times the actual amounts involved — is north of a billion dollars. Way north.

I asked City Hall to comment on all this. They did not grace me with a message one way or the other.

Federal Judge Reed O'Connor has had this thing on his desk for months. Selected for the federal bench in 2007 by Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and nominated by George W. Bush, O'Connor could have kicked the whole thing. Instead, last week he granted a motion for trial.

If it makes it to trial, this will be far more interesting, at least for me, than the federal City Hall corruption trial that sent Hill to prison.

Why? Because it will involve way more subpoenas going out to people on the north side of town. I call that "affirmatively furthering diversity of subpoenas" or AFDS.

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33 comments
Guest
Guest

History of Fair Housing

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was meant as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. Title VIII of the Act is also known as the Fair Housing Act (of 1968).

The enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968 came only after a long and difficult journey. From 1966-1967, Congress regularly considered the fair housing bill, but failed to garner a strong enough majority for its passage. However, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge for the bill's speedy Congressional approval. Since the 1966 open housing marches in Chicago, Dr. King's name had been closely associated with the fair housing legislation. President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to the man's life work, and wished to have the Act passed prior to Dr. King's funeral in Atlanta.

DC
DC

Great Information, keep it coming!

Ms Freedmans
Ms Freedmans

Can I get in on this lawsuit????????????????????

DC
DC

Thanks for the information! Keep it coming!

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Dallas city Hall has been doing this ,and they all know it.I was on Plan Commission and did the zoning case you spoke about that got the 25 million loan,I never shall forget.I went to the complex near City Place to check affordable units, there were none.I reported it to City Manage,his response was,affordable does not mean low rent. Same reason some Dallas Coucil members are mad with Dallas Airport Board members ,and changed policy to get rid of us, we refused to violate Federal Law for them to balance their budget.I hope they go to jail,what they did ,and approved is just as illegal as what Don Hill did.

Gusbunny
Gusbunny

"...because it lied in violation of the False Claims Act."

Jim, Dallas has been in violation of the False Claims Act as long as I can remember. It's just that some days are more False than others.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Way to go Jim, this could get fun. Can you imagine J Wiley playin' Queen for the Day and rolling on Hillwood among others cuz his and their paw prints are all over this.

Che_Boludo
Che_Boludo

Not only is this segregation manipulated by the establishment but also exposes the "black leaders" whose interests are self-serving which doesn't necessarily coincide with the interests of the people they supposedly represent,

Montemalone
Montemalone

Nothing will happen to the people ultimately responsible, they have and control too much money. Don Hill was a small time stepandfetchit, easy to blame and publicly punish.Unfortunately, the resulting civil penalties will be paid by all of us. Get ready for a bump in the water bill y'all.

JustGuessing
JustGuessing

"Federal Judge Reed O'Connor has had this thing on his desk for months. Selected for the federal bench in 2007 by Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and nominated by George W. Bush, O'Connor could have kicked the whole thing. Instead, last week he granted a motion for trial."

Can you imagine the phone calls (just a guess) between the Judge, Cornyn and KBH. Judge says - KBH, Cornyn, what the hell am i supposed to do with this case? KBH/Cornyn - Take care of it! Judge - What the hell does that mean? Cornyn/KBH - You know!!!

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Send them all to Federal prision with a lengthy term.

DM
DM

Well, if wall street cannot regulate itself and government can't regulate itself, then we need to be a nation of whistle blowers to end this behavior thats tearing apart AMERICA!

If anyone at City Hall or DHA or the County knows of wrongdoings you are protected by whistle blower laws and cannot be fired for being a hero by reporting it for the good of America!

Come forward and be a HERO!!!

Guest
Guest

Boy, this really is a BLACK and WHITE issue! For a mayor that bought the southern vote to become mayor, its going to really be hard to deliver on those backroom south dallas deals!

whodunnit
whodunnit

Let's see JFK's civil rights laws, Dealey Plaza, JFK assassination, 50 years, and now this federal lawsuit. Talk about conspiracy theory. There really is true justice.

SteveT
SteveT

It would be interesting to know what the City Auditor's Office found during its regular reviews of the City's use of HUD money (the Auditor's Office has a whole division devoted to this function).

Replay
Replay

Sounds like Mayor Mike has a very basic decision to make. He can become a part of this problem, or he can distance himself from it. It's very simple.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

Is this what Mayor Mike is thinking about, when he states that "south Dallas is always on my mind"?

DC
DC

Sure, come forth with information.

Guest
Guest

Yeah, the supposed "black leaders" are nothing less than modern day slave masters selling out their slaves!

DM
DM

Nope, city hall will be cleaned out as a result of this. Just wait and see!!!

FriendsInLowPlaces
FriendsInLowPlaces

This would actually be a brilliant way to ensure your pension and get rid of these corrupt city staffers all at the same time.

JimS
JimS

Mmmmm. Don't forget your hat.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

South dallas got nothing from this deal.Big White developers made money and built UpTown,DownTown and all around Town with encouragement from Dallas city Hall.City Hall requested wavier for some developers to not have the required number of affordable units. I look at the all so want to be Rich downtown and I laugh they don't know they are living in HUD properties just like Section 8 and Public Housing projects.

whodunnit
whodunnit

Puhleeze. You're joking, right?

SoDo
SoDo

No, he can either be part of the solution or part of the problem. You stand corrected. Because he appears to be such a sell-out, i am betting on the latter.

Replay
Replay

South Dallas is always on his mind because he's struggling to figure out how he is going to make good on all his campaign promises without all the Federal Funds he would have used. Good luck, Mayor Mike!

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

You god damn you heathens quit the hate on for all them black ministers and the flocks they fleece. Just cuz they can't afford a God Rocket don't make them bad peoples. Just pikers in the grand scheme of thangs.

LB
LB

Selling out their own people's interest to the rich white folk up North! Enough of it. It's time to educating some these people, so we can make it right and unite to fight.

Jada Wooten
Jada Wooten

Thanks to the people they elected!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest
Guest

Yep, now he has to run to raise dollars from the oligarches!

Replay
Replay

Maybe Mayor Mike can get someone like Habitat for Humanity to lead the charge! Uh, yeah, he's already doing that.

 
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