Baltimore Metropolitan Council Hosts Fair Housing Act Briefing For County Officials

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The Baltimore Metropolitan Council is hosting a briefing titled “Staying on the Right Side of the Affordable Housing Act” on May 20. The briefing  discuss recent changes on the obligations of local governments under the federal Fair Housing Act and how to minimize legal exposure to fair housing enforcement actions.  THE BRIEFING IS ONLY OPEN TO COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIALS AND STAFF.


On behalf of the Baltimore Regional Fair Housing Group, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council invites you to a briefing and discussion on the obligations of local governments under the federal Fair Housing Act. The briefing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20, 2014 from 8:30 am – 12:00 pm at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. Registration opens at 8:30 am, the briefing will begin at 9:00 am.  Light breakfast will be served.    


Suggested attendees include planning directors, county attorneys, government affairs officers, risk management staff, planning commission members, and administration officials.  Click here to register for this event. 



Beyond being prohibited from intentional discrimination on the basis of protected class (i.e., race, color, national origin, etc.) under the federal Fair Housing Act, local governments have two less-well-known obligations under the law: First, they must also be careful not to enforce policies or take actions that, while neutral on their face, may have a “disparate impact” on a protected class. Second, local governments that receive federal housing and community development funds must “affirmatively further fair housing.”

Over the past five years, HUD and advocates have stepped up enforcement efforts, and local governments have come under greater scrutiny. Our panel of experts will discuss these developments:

  • Last September Westchester Co., NY, permanently lost $7.4 million in federal funds   on fair housing grounds because of zoning issues within the county. More than $10 million in additional funds are still at risk. This ruling was in addition to a 2009 legal settlement that is already costing the county $60 million.

  • In November 2012, Sussex Co. Delaware settled lawsuits brought by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), paying a local land trust $750,000 and reconsidering a previously rejected 50-unit affordable housing development. A fair housing complaint by the local land trust spurred the lawsuits.

  • The 5th Circuit recently applied HUD’s new disparate impact rule in a case charging the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) with a violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act. As a result of this decision, TDHCA must meet court ordered goals in the allocation of low income housing tax credits.

In addition to a discussion of HUD’s new disparate impact rule and HUD’s proposed rule on affirmatively furthering fair housing, the briefing will include updates on what our local governments are already doing to comply with current fair housing rules.


  • Sara Pratt, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Programs and Enforcement, U.S. Department   of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Michael Allen, Partner, Relman Dane & Colfax, PLLC
  • Amy Wilkinson, Associate Executive Director for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity(FHEO)Enforcement, Housing Authority of Baltimore City
  • Kathleen Koch, Executive Director, Arundel Community Development Services, Inc.

Click here to register.

Please contact Dan Pontious, if you have any questions.

This program is sponsored by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council through a grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Baltimore Regional Fair Housing Group consists of housing representatives from Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard Counties.

The Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) is a nonprofit organization that works with the region’s elected executives to identify mutual interests and develop collaborative strategies, plans and programs that will help improve the quality of life and economic vitality. BMC is a resource for the region.