Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild accused the federal Housing and Urban Development agency of attempting to socially engineer neighborhoods in the midst of a discussion Thursday involving a state housing grant that had nothing to do with HUD.
Staff from the Carroll County Department of Citizen Services asked the commissioners to authorize a $5.6 million bond allocation to Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development on behalf of Carroll at Thursday's board meeting. The money in the program is used to provide mortgage financing for first-time home buyers.
Rothschild, R-District 4, interrupted the staff's presentation of the program and gave a six-minute speech about how U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was trying to negatively impact communities. Rothschild mentioned a July press release from HUD about a new proposed Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule.
As part of the new rule, HUD will gather and provide data for "every neighborhood in the country, detailing the access African-American, Latino, Asian and other communities have to local assets, including schools, jobs, transportation and other important neighborhood resources that can play a role in helping people move into the middle class," according to the press release.
Rothschild criticized HUD's proposed rule and said it was the federal government's attempt to make sure all communities are diversified.
"The new HUD rule is not about equal opportunity. It is about the forced social engineering of neighborhoods to achieve statistical results demanded by government in order to ensure something they refer to as 'healthier, better balanced communities,'" Rothschild said. "HUD is now going to gather racial statistics on every community in America and begin punishing communities that are insufficiently diversified."
Rothschild used a situation occurring in Westchester County, N.Y., as an example of HUD bullying counties. Westchester County could potentially lose millions in grant funding from HUD for not meeting fair housing obligations following a 2009 settlement, according to an Aug. 7 article published by The Journal News.
Rothschild claimed that if communities are labeled "insufficiently diversified" by HUD, they will be sued for having "exclusive zoning."
"Americans are witnessing the conversion of our federal agencies into Marxist change agents," Rothschild said. "It is the federal government that is engaging in racism against non-minorities."
Rothschild encouraged jurisdictions across the country to refuse money with strings attached to the new rule.
"We have to read all the fine print on all these housing grants and make sure we're not tying ourselves into something with HUD that could result in a dramatic upheaval for all the communities in Carroll County in the future," Rothschild said.
Rita Zimmerman, deputy director of the Department of Citizen Services, said the new proposed rule would not apply to the housing program for which she was seeking approval. This program is not associated with HUD, Zimmerman said.
"OK, good," Rothschild said.
In the end, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve authorized the bond allocation. Commissioner Dave Roush, R-District 3, did not attend the meeting and could not vote on the proposal.