On May 12, 2005, the Lawyers’ Committee, the Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington and the law firm of Hogan & Hartson filed a complaint against the County of Nassau, New York, the Nassau County Planning Commission, the Nassau County Office of Real Estate & Development, the Incorporated Village of Garden City and the Garden City Board of Trustees in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on behalf of the New York Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and several individual plaintiffs in ACORN et al. v. Nassau County and the Village of Garden City, CV-05-2301. The complaint was amended on November 30, 2005 and the New York ACORN Housing Co. Inc. (NYAHC), a non-profit affordable housing developer, was added as a plaintiff. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by rejecting a rezoning proposal that would have permitted the development of affordable housing on a twenty-five acre, County-owned property in Garden City that is home to the County’s Social Services Building and passing a zoning proposal that made such development impossible.
On May 8, 2002, the Lawyers’ Committee, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the Boston Bar Association and the law firm of Skadden Arps filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against the Town of Huntington, New York, the Town Board of the Town of Huntington, the Town of Huntington Planning Board, and S.B.J. Associates, L.L.C., in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of the Fair Housing in Huntington Committee and three individual plaintiffs in the case of Fair Housing in Huntington Committee, et al. v. Town of Huntington, CV-02-2787. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by approving a plan to use the last remaining large undeveloped residential parcel in a white area of the highly segregated and predominantly white town of Huntington for a development known as the Greens, a project which consisted of 1,300 multi-family units restricted to senior citizens and 75 luxury four and five bedroom single-family homes. None of non-senior housing was affordable.
On February 9, 2015, the Lawyers’ Committee and pro bono counsel Cooley LLP, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip against the Village of Mastic Beach, New York and the head of Mastic Beach’s housing code enforcement, Timothy Brojer, on behalf of six tenants, two landlords and Long Island Housing Services, Inc. This federal civil rights suit, Long Island Housing Services, Inc., et al v. Village of Mastic Beach and Timothy Brojer, Case Number: 2:15-cv-00629, alleges that since incorporating in 2010, the Village has abused its newfound powers over the rental permit and code enforcement processes by waging an aggressive campaign against low-income, primarily African American, tenants receiving housing assistance, as well as their landlords, to drive such tenants out of the Village. Code enforcement officials would condemn a house or find it “unfit for human habitation” without any grounds for doing so, often forcing the tenants to move out within two hours or less. Brojer and the Village then harassed and intimidated these tenants, as well as the landlords who rented to them, in an effort to drive them out of the area. At the same time, Brojer generally allowed white tenants to remain in a home, even if there were serious health and safety concerns. Claims are brought under the federal Fair Housing Act, federal civil rights laws, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, and the Suffolk County Human Rights Law. The complaint seeks monetary relief and an injunction to halt any continuing unlawful code enforcement activities by Mastic Beach.
Pleadings and other pertinent case related documents:
On December 10, 2008, the Lawyers’ Committee, the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) and the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center and several individuals in Mississippi State Conference NAACP v. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, CV-08-2140.
The action was brought under the Administrative Procedure Act and alleged that HUD violated 42 U.S.C. § 5301 when the agency approved the State of Mississippi’s plan to divert $570 million in Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from programs addressing the housing needs of low- and moderate-income survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the financing of a major expansion of the commercial Port of Gulfport. The complaint details the failure of the State of Mississippi to use the CDBG funds to replenish much-needed affordable rental housing stock in three coastal counties directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. It further documents HUD’s consistent approval of multiple waivers sought by the State from the requirement that 50 percent of the CDBG funds benefit low and moderate-income people. The Plaintiffs claim that HUD, when it approved the State’s request to reprogram housing relief funds to the Port of Gulfport, did not fulfill its responsibilities to review the proposal for compliance with the requirements of disaster relief bill and with the State’s duty to certify how the proposal would affirmatively further fair housing, as required by the Fair Housing Act.
On December 13, 2007, the Lawyers’ Committee and private attorneys filed a complaint against the Town of Smithtown, New York, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on behalf of several individual plaintiffs and a class of similarly situated individuals in the case of Vargas v. Town of Smithtown, CV-07-5202. The complaint alleged that the Town’s use of a discriminatory residency preference in administering its Section 8 Housing Voucher Program violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
On November 2, 2006, the attorneys for the Lawyers’ Committee, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and the law firm of Relman & Dane filed a complaint against St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on behalf of GNOFHAC and Wallace Rodrigue, an individual property owner, in the case of Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center v. St. Bernard Parish, CV-06-07185. The complaint alleged that the Parish violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, by enacting a series of discriminatory zoning ordinances, including what was known as the “blood relative” ordinance as shorthand for a housing ordinance which prohibited rental of single-family residences to persons, “other than a family member(s) related by blood.” In a Parish that is 93% white and abuts heavily African-American New Orleans neighborhoods, including the Lower Ninth Ward, the discriminatory intent and effect were clear.