The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is accusing Oakland County of pushing discriminatory housing policies in how it divvies up federal housing money.

In a 20-page letter addressed to county Executive L. Brooks Patterson, HUD says Oakland County steered $171 million in housing aid since 1989 to homeowners at the expense of renters, who are more likely to be non-white. That’s contributed to the worst housing segregation in the nation, HUD says.

The news was first reported by Bridge Magazine.

HUD says Oakland County rarely spends money helping rental units and even bars communities from spending certain grant money on multi-family homes. Failing to address the issue could jeopardize $7 million in annual funding.

County officials vigorously deny any wrongdoing and say they’re fighting the finding. They have a deadline of July 1 to respond to the allegations.

The Detroit region has a long history of racial discrimination in housing policy, through redlining and housing covenants that saw agreements between property owners to sell only to other white people.

The HUD complaint appears to have been sparked by a 2015 complaint filed by the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit that said Oakland County’s housing policies were hurting minorities.


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