Dallas City Hall Claims HUD Was in on Local Misdeeds. They Were Still Misdeeds.

Categories: Schutze

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Dallas City Hall: "But we thought the sheriff wanted us to be naughty."
Yesterday in its first official response to a federal investigation that found Dallas guilty of misappropriating funds and furthering segregation, Dallas City Hall said the feds were in on the whole thing themselves from the beginning:

"It is important to note that HUD has given final approval of all projects assisted by federal housing funds, either on the local level and/or from the Washington, D.C., office," city spokesman Frank Librio said in a prepared statement. "Any proposed projects assisted by federal housing funds must be approved by HUD before they may be implemented. Now the Fort Worth Office of HUD has issued a letter where it contends that the city has violated HUD guidelines and regulations."

See also: The Feds Say Dallas City Hall Has Promoted Racial Segregation in Housing Projects for Years

Westchester County, New York, tried the same argument seven years ago when the same Washington law firm involved in the Dallas complaint brought a compliant to HUD saying Westchester was doing what Dallas is doing now. That defense didn't work. At all.

Westchester ended up making a $62.5 million settlement with HUD. They subsequently balked at other terms of the settlement that involved reducing segregation rather than increasing it. HUD is now in the process of cutting off Westchester's community development block grant (CDBG) funds, a move that would be disastrous here.

There are two reasons why it doesn't work to say the sheriff must have known you were a bootlegger. First, so what? Second, in this case anyway, the sheriff couldn't have known. HUD does not monitor the use of its CDBG money. Instead it relies on local governments to certify -- that is, sign a sworn statement every year -- that they are doing what the law says they must do with the money.

Dallas council member Scott Griggs gets it. He compares the certification process to self-insurance, where the city swears it's got things covered. "The city is self-insured, and HUD, because we're a municipality, has accepted our self-insurance for some period of time." But now, he says, HUD is telling Dallas it was cheating on the self-insurance.

Griggs said what he expects next from HUD is evidence that Dallas has not been doing the things it swore it was doing every year in the certifications -- for example, carrying out serious analyses of segregation in the city and the factors contributing to it, as required by federal law of cities that take this money.

You don't have to take the money. But if you take the money -- and no matter what anybody else is doing or saying or whispering in your ear -- you do have to obey the law. That's why they call it "the law."

Griggs said he is also concerned by references in HUD's 29-page investigative report to multiple warnings HUD says it has given to Dallas officials over the years, expressing its "concerns" that things in Dallas didn't smell quite right. For example, HUD says it warned Dallas not to let developers skate on their obligation to provide affordable housing units when they are still supposed to be providing them by contract and by law. In the report, HUD cites multiple incidents where Dallas went ahead and did it anyway even after being warned.

As of yesterday, the full City Council still had not received copies of the HUD investigation nor had the HUD matter been slated for a briefing by city lawyers to the council. Griggs and new council member Philip Kingston, both of whom are lawyers, asked for and received copies of the report when they received a memo from staff saying something important had come in from HUD but not saying what. They both said, "What?"

If the Dallas response -- "The sheriff knew we was bad" -- resembles the ill-fated strategy of Westchester County, the immediate contrast may be an entity not often suspected of doing anything smart: the state of Texas. In 2010 the state came to a settlement with HUD over a complaint brought by Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Texas Appleseed. The two nonprofits told HUD Texas had misspent hundreds of millions in CDBG money in the relief effort after Hurricanes Ike and Dolly in 2008.

Texas officials looked at the complaint, saw it was righteous, basically threw up their hands and came quickly to a $1.7 billion settlement. That's a lot of money, but the premise is that it's better than losing way more than that in future federal support, not to mention having a federal judge run your government.

Over all of this loom large and fundamental questions. Does this really mean Dallas is becoming more segregated? Has that been going on for a long time? Did our city officials just not realize it was happening?

We'll work on those questions tomorrow in this space, but just as a preview, the answers are as follows: 1) Yes, we have been becoming more segregated recently. 2) No, we were actually getting less segregated until city officials initiated the housing policies HUD is complaining about. 3) City Hall did realize what was going on, based on their own studies and reports, which confirm the evidence in the HUD complaint.

Talk to you 'bout that tomorrow.


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40 comments
barronstalls
barronstalls

"Griggs said he is also concerned by references in HUD's 29-page investigative report to multiple warnings HUD says it has given to Dallas officials over the years, expressing its "concerns" that things in Dallas didn't smell quite right. For example, HUD says it warned Dallas not to let developers skate on their obligation to provide affordable housing units when they are still supposed to be providing them by contract and by law. In the report, HUD cites multiple incidents where Dallas went ahead and did it anyway even after being warned."

This should turn into a class action by all the tenants that overpaid rents for all these years that should have been paying the controlled rent amounts. Said suit should be against the property owners and the City of Dallas. 

James080
James080

Hmmm. Tax payer money granted in large quantities by politicians to make some perceived social problems go away.  As always, in the end, the only thing that goes away is the money. The problems and the politicians remain. And no one is ever held accountable, it seems.

Show me a government program or agency that is not riddled with fraud, croneyism and theft, and I'll show you a program or agency that has not being audited lately.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

I get the idea behind integration, and i agree it would be better to be more integrated.  My question is with the methods.  Can legislating the ideal racial ratio even be possible?  It hasn't seemed to bring much benefit to public education, especially in Dallas.  You can't legislate morality, which is what integration legislation attempts to do.  You can't change people's perceptions by tying them to federal funds.  No matter what criteria you use to define neighborhood segregation, no amount of legal hocus pocus is going to fix it.  If privileged people are living in a neighborhood and don't want others of a different race or income level living near them, they'll find a way to make that happen, even if it means moving farther out.  I'm not putting a right or a wrong on either point of view, just observing what reality seems to be.  Pleasant Grove was once predominantly white and fairly rural/suburban, then it went through a short phase of integration before going predominantly black, and is now a healthy mix of black and hispanic on it's way to becoming a hispanic neighborhood.  The great integration you are seeing in the suburbs is simply a slower, more recent example of this process.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Why wasn't this accomplishment brought up at the soiree' feteing Ms. Suhm on the wonderful, ex-pee-al-edocious job that she did as our our beatified City Manager?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Absolutely. $62.5. Will go change it now. Thanks. 

barronstalls
barronstalls

I think the decimal point is in the wrong place for the Westchester settlement: more like 65 Million. 

WylieH
WylieH

["It is important to note that HUD has given final approval of all projects assisted by federal housing funds, either on the local level and/or from the Washington, D.C., office," city spokesman Frank Librio said in a prepared statement.]

One of the MANY problems with this statement is that one of HUD's central findings appears to detail a scam whereby well-connected developers would get HUD loans with city support to back new construction by guaranteeing that a specified number of units would be available as affordable housing for a minimum of 15 years.  Once the projects were completed, the developers would simply ignore the requirements and the City did nothing to ensure that the requirements were adhered to.  If this were a private party, rather than the City of Dallas, that had promulgated such as scheme, I wonder if they wouldn't be facing criminal charges--- interesting to ponder.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Larger societies (of which governance is only a part) employ a more positive approach to accomplish the same goal. 

Why do neighborhoods and towns form in the first place?  It’s where the work is. 

Today we call this center of activity around which people domicile – an economic base.  Kinda like the reason why people are flooding into our state and metros. 

But look who is butting into the centers of human activity formed upon the principle of self-interest? 

Hello HUD.  Hello public assistance and its 127 national, state and local programs.  

This freezes the area by arresting the necessity and desire to shift to where the jobs are.  

And there is a huge downside to this kind of “help”.  It destroys lives on a grand scale.

James080
James080

Where did the buck stop? Let's name some names. "Dallas" was not told anything. City of Dallas employees and elected officials were told or informed, and chose to ignore HUD's concerns.

Can we determine who exactly put the city in this position?


Lorlee
Lorlee

I served on the Community Development Board some years back.  CDBG is where the majority of housing money comes from in the City.  The City has no skin of its own in the game.  CDBG even funds the bureaucrats that administer the money.  CDBG is to be used only in qualifying areas -- and the City used about $30M to back the loans in Downtown which would have required some low/mod units.  So far as I could tell there weren't any.  The success of downtown housing was on the backs of the poor people who were supposed to be benefitting from the CDBG money. 

beck1006
beck1006

Can't say that this is even surprising:/?

d-may
d-may

Q: "Does this really mean Dallas is becoming more segregated?"
Yes. That's why the suburbs exist. 

 Has that been going on for a long time?
Yes, at least since the advent of streetcars. 
 

Did our city officials just not realize it was happening?

No. everyone knows our city/region is disgracefully segregated. It always has been, and it's getting more and more segregated. Did you know, a generation ago there was a thriving community of white families in Pleasant Grove?  Did you know that a generation ago there was a thriving black community in what is now Uptown. That's the point of the suburbs, to utilize cars to allow people to live further from their work and away from people that don't look like them. That's not a burn on cars, streetcars served the same purpose before the automobile, it's a burn on human nature.  It doesn't take much research to find data showing the city's segregation.  http://demographics.coopercenter.org/DotMap/ 

d-may
d-may

Dear HUD,

Yeah, don't you remember? Your whole purpose for existence was to help further institutionalized racism, segregation, and discrimination. Or did you grow to big for your crayons? 


oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Which SKIN COLOR  lives where is as far removed from the how and where the was Money spent as most of the projects are from the people who needed them most .

HUD does not monitor the use of its CDBG money. They have got to  Be Kidding right ?

If not then why the  now ?





JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@James080 

Yeah, but, should they get away with it?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@RTGolden1 

Yeah, but can you take the money and then spend it to do the opposite of what the contract says you're supposed to do? Would that fly in the private sector?

WylieH
WylieH

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Probably for the same reason the collapse of the 911 system, effective termination of traffic enforcement, failure to adequately maintain traffic signals (to the tune of $200 million), disobeying direct instructions of Council with respect to drilling on parkland, disintegration of the IT department, an antiquated and frequently broken website, failure to implement bike trails in the Trinity after being directed to do so, awarding a no-risk contract on the Texas Horse Park to a guy with a history of animal neglect, saying that no part of Project Pegasus could be undertaken until the Trinity Toll Road was open, letting the levees fall apart from lack of maintenance, etc., etc., etc. weren't mentioned.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@WylieH 

Exactly. I understand why everybody wants to talk about this as a racism/integration issue, and it is. But the sharper edge of the knife is the contract issue. If you take the money and you sign on the dotted line, you have to do what you agreed to do. That's where management at City Hall is in deep shit. They're so accustomed to playing the city council for fools, laggards and loons  -- "Oh, no, we won't allow any drilling parks if you don't want us to" -- they thought they could play the feds for fools, laggards and loons. Not loons, anyway.    

wcvemail
wcvemail

@holmantx I agree, but see Wylie's and Jim's contract-focused comments above. If Dallas philosophically disagrees with HUD's approach, so be it. Don't take the money, commission and publicize studies to bolster your points, even sue HUD for its conditional dictates, whatever. 

But if you take the money, do the things you promised to do when taking the money.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I'm betting she retired recently.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@d-may Except that the suburbs themselves are actually much more integrated than Dallas.  Our suburbs are actually becoming more and more true melting pots, while Dallas has become more segregated.  Jim's written about this phenomenon before.  

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

But this is not that. This is not about suburbanization. It is about the degree of sgregation within neighborhoods inside the city and whether official city policy has sought to make those neighbrohoods more segregated than they would have been absent that policy. For thirty years Dallas neighborhoods were becoming less segregated. Only in the last ten, when City Hall began using federal housing money as a steering mechanism, did we start becoming more segregated. And the problem there is that every year when we took the miney we swore we would use it to make neighborhoods less segregated. This is pretty much a contract issue. If I take your money and sign a contract with you promising to use your money for a certain purpose, do you think I have a right to trick you and spend your money for the opposite purpose?

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

If you want to go back two generations Oak Cliff was lily white. My great aunt was one of the few holdouts until she passed a few years back.

I once made the mistake of saying she lived in south Dallas and got chewed out over it. She was insistent it was Oak Cliff and not South Dallas.

d-may
d-may

In case you didn't catch the crayons burn:

Back in the day, HUD and the FHA used to roll out big maps of cities and use crayons to "redline" certain areas to make sure they didn't make a mistake and accidentally provide grants or loans to "blighted" neighborhoods.

That's what institutionalized racism and discrimination looks like. 

James080
James080

@JimSX @James080  

Hell no they shouldn't get away with it. But the voters don't hold the politicians accountable, the politicians don't hold the bureaucrats accountable, and the US Attorney's office seems to need a decade to make a case. The cycle never stops.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@JimSX @RTGolden1 I'm not arguing against the point of your article Jim.  Of course, if the developer or city accepts the funds with the conditions HUD placed on it, then those conditions should be met.  I'm not even arguing against HUD placing these conditions on the funds.  I'm simply wondering if the laudable goal of racial, income and gender equality is a suitable goal for a government to pursue.  Make the goal "Affordable Housing for All" and you have a goal that government can build regulations and requirements around.  Make the goal "Equal disbursement of the population by ratios of race, income, gender, sexual orientation, religion and age" and you've introduced the lawmakers to higher math.  One look at our economy should tell you that higher math is not a strong suit of either elected officials or bureaucrats.

Segregation would seem to be a result of an odd combination of ignorance, fear, sensationalism and greed.  People fear the change, fear the differences and media, both right and left sensationalize the changes and the differences.  The greed aspect of institutional segregation you know and can explain much better than I.  We can try to educate and regulate institutional segregation out of existence, but it will take a couple of generations of awareness and enlightenment to get people to let go of their self imposed segregations.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@WylieH

Well, they did want the soiree' to be finished in one evening.  I am sure that is why they didn't bring up these accomplishments.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@JimSX @WylieH Thank you for pointing out that this is two issues.  Although important, the racial aspect is a bit of a distraction for the public in what really happened.  The City clearly violated its contract and signed attestations regarding their compliance with regulations. 

This is similar to the Red Tails issue in DISD, everyone was so focused on the fact that their girls were excluded, they forgot that the expenditure was unallowable from Title I funds.

I not trying to brush aside the racial issue - however people for the most part have an opinion which is not easily changed on that issue.  We will argue about it and nothing will ever change. 

barronstalls
barronstalls

@JimSX @WylieH Yep, and AC Gonzales was right in the middle of all this shit!!! Not to mention Queen Mary!!! 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@wcvemail @holmantx

I agree however, we profoundly damage the quality of life by engaging in the simple signage found in our national parks.

Don’t Feed The Wild Animals – a National Park Sign 

They will soon forget how to fend for themselves.  They will not hunt or forage to occupy their days.  Idleness atrophies ‘will’ and destroys ‘purpose’. You arrest the natural order of interaction and the conduct of existence itself.  The fed will become reliant upon you for sustenance and lose the acumen to hunt.  They will not be your friend.  Wild animals only hang around for the next feeding.  They remain suspicious and angry, but always hungry – for the hunt that no longer is needed but remains in their genes. 

Bears will eventually yank you from your car and eat you if you run out of food.  Don’t feed the sharks.  They get so excited over freebies they eat each other.  

Free food invites animals from far away, first to hunt the nearby un-hunted food source left by the now idle, then to work the perimeter of the feeding area and finally – survival of the fittest enforces those, which can, to bully their way to the trough.  Their society breaks down. 

The feeder becomes frightened and feeds a little faster.  Eventually, he will come to know that he is not capable of feeding all the animals and realizes the horrible mistake he has made by engaging in highly destructive behavior in order to receive a little short term satisfaction.  For it is self-satisfaction that motivated him to feed in the first place, and to the detriment to those fed.

(it was a rather large sign).

d-may
d-may

@doublecheese @d-may The "integration" in the suburbs is not a melting pot at all. It's continued white flight. Take a look again at the map I linked to above. Look closely at the older Suburbs, like Farmers Branch and Irving. They look like they have a great mix of races. But if you compare ages of people and races, you will find that the white people in those burbs are getting pretty old. Fewer and fewer have kids in their Schools. More and more of the young people in these communities are minorities. 

Suburbs don't have a melting pot, they have flight.  The City of Dallas itself is just a generation or two more established in it's segregation. 

d-may
d-may

@JimSX  I really think that deep down, the cause there isn't institutional racism here, at least not in the same manner that existed in the 50's, rather it's really more about competition with the burbs. Dallas is stuck between to hard places. On one hand, I don't believe our city planners want to be don't want to be the Dallas we are now that is badly segregated. The city wants South Dallas, Pleasant Grove, and Victory Meadows to be successful and have thriving communities. We have good people in our planning departments, and good people in our development community. BUT, we are also in constant competition with the Burbs for jobs and people. The northern suburbanites don't care about the people in South Dallas. They may send a weekend mission trip to help out with a Habitat build, but they are sure to go home before dark. And businesses also don't care about South Dallas. Businesses will choose to locate in places where their highly educated employees want to live and the rent is cheaper. Dallas has to compete with that. And that's really what's causing this problem. It's not racism from the 50's. If it is racism, it's a different kind of racism.  

d-may
d-may

@JimSX @d-may While I'm not going to defend the Park Cities, I can't match your data to show Frisco as some bastion of diversity. Wolfram Alpha has it at 73% white. But, more importantly to my point, it only has an over 65 population of 4%. It's not old enough of a city yet to have developed fully. It's still in it's first development cycle. Everything is still new and everyone is still young. 

For a better comparison. Look at Richardson, where their infrastructure isn't quite as new as Frisco. Like Dallas, it's city population has been flat for the past 10 years. The white population (58%)  has dropped and gotten older (11% over 65). Meanwhile the minority population has increased. The Observer recently ran an article about a curfuffle at RIchardson City Hall about building new apartments. What was the rational for the opposition again? 

White flight hasn't stopped. 


JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@d-may 

You're about 20 years out of date. All of the school enrollments in the suburbs all the way out to Frisco are becoming more diverse every year. If you add in the roles of immigrants from all over the world and the astonishing upward mobility of black people since the passage of the civil rights act in 1964, doublecheese is exactly right. The suburbs are where MLK Jr's dream is coming true, except it's only a dream come true for upwardly mobile people, and of course they are all rigidly stratified and segregated by income, because that is the suburban template. If you are the old style of white folk who starts hyperventilating when he gets caught on an elevator with somebody who doesn't look like his cousin (and would only consider marrying somebody who looks like his sister) then you need to move to the Park Cities, not Frisco.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@d-may @JimSX 

1950s racism versus 2010s racism: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@tomhoop @d-may @JimSX 

Actually this very question was tested in the HUD complaint, producing hard evidence that the segregation that ensued from Dallas City Hall's policies was not economic but racial.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@d-may @JimSX Nobody I've ever met from South Dallas would ever suggest that "northern suburbanites" should hang around after dark in one of the blighted areas they are helping out in.  Everyone knows that's just a bad idea.  How about some gratitude for the help from people who don't even live in the same city?

tomhoop
tomhoop

@d-may @JimSX   Having lived here most of my life, I can say it is and always be more about class divides than racial divides. It is very natural for people to associate with and be attracted to people with the same tastes, goals. and aspirations. It would be like asking the question, Is Mariah Carey a great singer? Beyonce yes, Whitney Houston, yes, but  Mariah drives me nuts. We like to hang around the people who share our interests. Even in integrated complexes , there is very little social interaction. Case in point where I live. 

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