The partial federal government shutdown is in its 30th day as I type this. It is going on longer than most people (including me) thought. No resolution seems to be in sight. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) is one of the federal entities largely closed until the administration and Congress solve the current funding impasse.
So, what happens to our housing discrimination cases pending with HUD during the shutdown? The short answer is your case is on hold. I got emails from a handful of investigators when the shutdown went into effect noting they have been instructed not to report to the office and they are not permitted to work on their pending matters. Indeed, two of my cases had interviews scheduled that were postponed. No way to know how quickly they will get rescheduled once the government reopens.
Another three cases have responses due. My best advice is to prepare your response and send it in so there can be no allegation that we missed a deadline, although I typically like to introduce myself to the investigator and briefly discuss the issues in an effort to determine just what HUD really needs to complete its inquiry. It is, however, unclear what happens to the 100 day clock during which HUD is tasked to complete its investigation. Now, as the 100 day limit is routinely missed, I suspect pending cases will receive what I call a “100 Day Letter” noting the case needs more time and usually providing a new expected completion date.
For cases pending in federal court, the various districts are doing their best to stay open (using court fees and juggling funds previously appropriated). Best guess is there is enough money to last until around February 9, 2019. We are now seeing individual districts deciding how to prioritize cases and staff. Some courts have issued stays (legalese for a pause) in civil cases in which the United States is a party. I suspect if the shutdown lasts into the second week of February, civil case processing will stop or severely slow down.
And no — the shutdown does not mean the Fair Housing Act has lapsed.
Now, remember – the shutdown impacts HUD and the Department of Justice. If your case is pending before a state, county, or city civil rights agency/commission – it is being processed as usual.
Just A Thought.