Two more counties have joined a Colorado town in rejecting grants covered by HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, effectively nullifying a federal program designed to gain control over local communities.

Castle Rock, a community of 55,000 people in central Colorado, recently decided to refuse funds from the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Sedgwick County, Kansas and Douglas County, Colorado have now joined it.

New HUD regulations known as Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) totaling 377 pages in all gives the unelected HUD bureaucrats broad powers over grant recipient communities, including the power to reverse electoral decisions by local voters and force them to join “regions” against the their wishes. Under AFFH, the federal government can control zoning, planning, land use, location of public transportation, and even the socioeconomic diversity of elementary and secondary classrooms.

Sedgwick County commissioner Richard Ranzau told Property Value Defense the thought of accepting the HUD grant money was enticing. But he and three other commissioners ultimately reached the same conclusion.

“Do we really want the federal government to control all of our zoning?  It’s just not worth it.”

On June 1, 2016, the commissioners voted to refuse any HUD money associated with AFFH.

“If we did accept this money and all of the government’s control, what happens to our county in the future?  We will be tying future officials’ hands and sticking them with zoning and planning and our community will have no say,” Ranzau said.

Douglas County initially wanted to work with HUD, according to Property Value Defense. The county has accepted HUD block grants for over a decade. But the AFFH rules raised some red flags. Commissioner David Weaver said he became more concerned when he saw in HUD’s certification papers that the agency required, “A policy prohibiting the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies within its jurisdiction against any individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations.” This raised concerns because the county has nothing to do with the training and deployment of local police forces.

“Anyway, what does this have to do with affordable housing?”

Weaver said became obvious and disturbing that HUD was expanding their authority beyond reasonable bounds.

The county forwarded a concerned response to HUD noting hazy definitions and conflicting wording that could leave the county liable for lawsuits and erase part of their authority. But Weaver said “HUD would not get back to us.” When the county did speak with HUD, the agency was evasive and did not even tell them of a 60-day extension for the agency’s hearings, according to Property Value Defense.

Ultimately the county voted not to accept the funding.

“We knew that we could not rely on HUD, because they were not honest with us,” Weaver said,

Weaver’s response when a reporter asked how the council would handle “the heat” from the decision is revealing,

“There is no heat. We made a decision and will find a way to fill the hole. It is what we always did before HUD came along.” [Emphasis added]

Towns, counties and states need to follow the lead of these three communities and reject federal funding with all of its strings. While the money with the promise of funding wonderful projects serves as an enticing carrot, a large stick inevitably follows. By taking the money, cities, towns, counties and states forfeit control over their own communities. Instead, bureaucrats in D.C. get to dictate and direct local concerns. It isn’t about helping poor people. It’s about command and control.

State and local government can’t complain when they willing let the feds bribe them into relinquishing control. But they can refuse the money. Like Weaver said, communities managed a long time without federal handouts. They can do it again.

This is the simplest and most effective nullification strategy there is: if you don’t want the federal control, don’t take the money. It’s as simple as that.

Mike Maharrey

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