In the latest sign that the Trump administration is systematically sabotaging the stated missions of federal government agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week that it was doing away with efforts to identify segregation in American communities.
HUD announced on Friday evening that it would pull an online assessment tool that communities can use to find data and maps of segregated neighborhoods.
The announcement came just weeks after fair housing groups filed a lawsuit against the agency over its suspension of rules demanding that communities address segregation.
In response to the suit, said one of the plaintiffs, HUD Secretary Ben Carson is attempting to challenge anti-segregation efforts in a new way.
"They're trying to achieve the same goal, just through a different avenue," Lisa Rice, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, told the Washington Post. "They're trying to get out from under the lawsuit. Instead of suspending the rule, they're making the tool that communities use to follow the rule null and void."
The Local Government Assessment Tool was developed by the Obama administration and contained questions that local officials could answer regarding practices that influenced fair housing in their communities. The tool was meant to encourage full compliance with the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which requires local officials use federal dollars to combat racial segregation.
According to former HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Salin Geevarghese, the tool received positive feedback from community leaders attempting to increase compliance.
Stakeholders told HUD in 2009/'10 that having the data, mapping tools, and technical assistance to comply with AFFH was critical. Carson's decision flies in the face of that feedback and shows no vision for confronting segregation. https://t.co/yLu9lwke20
— Salin Geevarghese (@geevarsg) May 19, 2018
Since being appointed as HUD Secretary, Carson has eliminated the phrase "inclusive communities...free from discrimination" from the department's mission statement, abandoned investigations into alleged fair housing violations, and tripled rent costs for low-income Americans who rely on housing assistance—prompting alarm and condemnation from critics and civil rights advocates.