Update:  After feedback from the ACLU of Kentucky, and a number of our ally social justice organizations, the Louisville Metro Housing Authority is suggesting changes to the proposed rent reform study.  Details here.

Randomly selecting individuals to pay increased housing costs appears to be an arbitrary exercise of authority

The ACLU of KY today submitted formal comments to the Louisville Metro Housing Authority opposing the proposed Housing Choice Voucher Rent Reform Study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In doing so, the ACLU of KY noted that the study, if approved, would impose a new rent calculation formula upon a randomly selected group of participants that will have the effect of requiring those individuals to pay more in housing costs than those who are not chosen for the program. The ACLU argued that, in this context, the use of random selection to unequally distribute government benefits may run afoul of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In commenting why the ACLU submitted today’s comments, Exec. Director Michael Aldridge stated, “The cornerstone of our democracy is that individuals will be treated equally. But if the Housing Authority chooses to participate in the rent reform study, it will raise certain individuals’ housing costs purely at random.” He added, “The disparate impact this study would have upon people of color, particularly African American women, is also troubling.   Whatever legitimate reasons the Housing Authority may have for examining new rent calculation formulas, we think it inadvisable and a denial of fundamental fairness to randomly (and thus arbitrarily) select people for participation in a social experiment of this type.”