Feds Cut off Housing Funds to Missouri after GOP-Led Discrimination Law Goes into Effect

By Erickson, Kurt | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 13, 2017 | Go to article overview

Feds Cut off Housing Funds to Missouri after GOP-Led Discrimination Law Goes into Effect


Erickson, Kurt, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


JEFFERSON CITY * Missouri is on track to lose an estimated $500,000 in federal funds after officials found a new state law does not comply with federal discrimination rules.

In a July 14 letter not previously disclosed by Gov. Eric Greitens' administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the law making it harder to sue for discrimination resulted in state and federal rules no longer being "substantially equivalent."

Bryan Greene, HUD general deputy assistant secretary, wrote that Missouri must restore the law to meet federal rules by March 1, 2018, if it wants to continue participating in the Fair Housing Assistance Program.

The decision by the federal government was not a surprise.

The Post-Dispatch reported in April that HUD was concerned that the legislation sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, R-Ste. Genevieve, would weaken state discrimination laws.

The law, known as Senate Bill 43, includes new caps on the amount of money housing discrimination victims could receive from winning a lawsuit, the removal of some protections against retaliation for reporting discrimination and a new requirement that plaintiffs prove a landlord or bank intentionally denied them housing solely based on their race, sex or other protected status to win a case.

In his July letter, Greene noted that the caps "impermissibly limit the remedies available to victims of housing discrimination."

He also said the law removes provisions of previous state law prohibiting retaliation against victims of housing discrimination and requires victims to pursue administrative remedies before filing a civil lawsuit. …

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