IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Action No. 3:0 0-CV 1165-J-25A
AUTHORITY and CITY OF
INJUNCTIVE RELIEF SOUGHT
- This action is brought by the United States of America to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under
28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
- Defendant Jacksonville Housing Authority ("JHA") is a
public housing authority established by the City of Jacksonville
in 1995 pursuant to a local ordinance enacted in 1994. JHA
operates within the City of Jacksonville's corporate limits in
Duval County, Florida, which is located within the Middle
District of Florida.
- Defendant City of Jacksonville ("City") is a
municipality of the State of Florida, located within the Middle
District of Florida. Between 1970 and 1995, the City Council
functioned as the public housing authority for the City, with the
day-to-day operations being run first by the City's Department of
Housing and Urban Renewal and then by the City's Department of
Housing and Urban Development (JHUD).
- The public housing units owned and operated first by the
City and then by the JHA are dwellings within the meaning of the
Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b). These dwellings were
dejure racially segregated at least until the late 1960s.
- In 1981, the United States Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) withdrew federal funds from the City
because of the City's refusal to build public housing units in
predominantly white neighborhoods. After 1981 and until 1988,
the City did not build any public housing.
- In 1988, the City decided to demolish an aging 654-unit
public housing development called Blodgett Homes, and to build
new public housing and site-based Section 8 rental units as
replacements. Blodgett Homes was located in a neighborhood with
a greater than 95% black population based on the 1990 Census.
The HUD-approved and HUD-funded replacement plan called for
approximately one-half of the replacement units to be built in
non-minority concentrated areas. In order to accomplish this,
the plan required approximately 241 units of public housing to be
constructed in predominantly white neighborhoods and
approximately 358 units to be built in predominantly black
neighborhoods. In addition, the plan included the construction
of 155 units of privately-owned site-based Section 8 rental
housing in an area that was 36% minority as of the 1990 Census.
- Since 1988, the Defendants have,
- constructed approximately 258 public housing units in predominantly black neighborhoods as Blodgett replacement units;
- constructed an additional 200 public housing units in a predominantly black neighborhood;
- provided a financial subsidy for a private
developer to construct and operate a Section 8
site-based apartment complex with 155 units in an
area that was 36% minority as Blodgett replacement
- failed to construct any public housing in
predominantly white neighborhoods.
- Since the Blodgett replacement plan was put forth in
1988, there has been public opposition to public housing sites
located in predominantly white neighborhoods that the Defendants
proposed to construct. In response to this opposition, although
the JHA had been created to administer the public housing
program, the City amended its zoning code, on or about September
30, 1994, to require that all lands used for public housing be
zoned "Public Buildings and Facilities-1" (PBF-1). One of the
primary purposes of this ordinance was for the City to retain
control of the location of future public housing that might be
constructed by the newly created JHA, especially under the
Blodgett replacement plan. Said ordinance was repealed by the
City in 1999.
- Between 1995 and 1999, when new construction of public
housing was subject to approval by both the JHA and the City, no
sites in predominantly white neighborhoods received the necessary
approval from both entities for public housing construction.
- In 1993, the City preliminarily decided to purchase
privately-owned land in a predominantly white neighborhood on the
westside of Jacksonville ("westside site") for the construction
of sixty (60) units of public housing. White neighbors residing
near the site objected to the proposed development and made their
objections known to the Defendants at a series of public hearings
and meetings in 1994 and 1995. In response to this public
opposition, the City deferred action on purchasing the site until
after the JHA began operating public housing in January 1995. In
July 1995, again in response to public opposition, the City
Council voted against a request from the JHA and the site's owner
to re-zone the land PBF-1 for public housing.
- In 1995, the JHA decided to use some of the funds that
had originally been set aside for the Blodgett replacement plan
to demolish and rebuild one hundred ten (110) public housing
units in a predominantly black neighborhood. At the same time,
the JHA decided to reduce the number of public housing units it
planned to construct in predominantly white areas from two
hundred forty-one (241) to sixty (60). In 1997, JHA decided to
site these sixty (60) units at Golfbrook Terrace, a 200-unit
public housing complex built in the 1970s in a predominantly
black neighborhood. These actions were taken, in part, in
response to the City Council's vote against re-zoning the
- During all relevant time periods, approximately ninety
percent (90%) of the residents of Jacksonville public housing
were black and the waiting list for Jacksonville public housing
was approximately eighty percent (80%) black. The vast majority
of households who would have resided at any of the sites proposed
under the Blodgett replacement plan would have been black.
During all relevant time periods, the JHA and the City were aware
that the overwhelming majority of Jacksonville public housing
residents and applicants were black.
- Defendants have taken actions which have been intended
to appease citizens who feared that African Americans would move
into public housing sites proposed for construction in
predominantly white neighborhoods and/or which have been intended
to prevent African Americans from moving into predominantly white
areas of the City.
- By constructing public housing solely in predominantly
black neighborhoods and by refusing to construct public housing
in predominantly white neighborhoods in Duval County, including
at the westside site, the Defendants made housing unavailable on
the basis of race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a).
- By engaging in the above-described conduct, the
Defendants interfered with persons in the exercise or enjoyment
of fair housing rights granted and protected by Section 3604, in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
- The conduct of Defendants as described above
- A pattern and practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing
Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.; and
- A denial to a group of persons of rights granted
by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et
seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
- There are persons who have been injured by Defendants'
discriminatory actions as described above and are aggrieved
persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). These persons have
suffered, or may have suffered, damages as a result of
Defendants' discriminatory conduct.
- Defendants' conduct has been intentional, willful, and
taken in disregard of the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter a JUDGMENT that:
- Declares that the actions of the Defendants described herein constitute violations of the Fair Housing Act;
- Enjoins the Defendants, their officials, agents, and
employees, and all other persons in active concert or
participation with them, from continuing to discriminate on the
basis of race in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
- Requires such actions by the Defendants as may be
necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by Defendants'
discriminatory housing practices to the position they would have
occupied but for the Defendants' discriminatory conduct;
- Awards such damages as would fully compensate each
person aggrieved by the Defendants' discriminatory housing
practices for the injuries that they have suffered as a result
thereof, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
- Assesses a civil penalty against each Defendant in an
amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to
vindicate the public interest.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
BILL LANN LEE
Assistant Attorney General
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
DIANE L. HOUK
Special Litigation Counsel
CATHERINE A. BENDOR
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035
Telephone: (202) 305-1077
Facsimile: (202) 514-1116
DONNA A. BUCELLA
United States Attorney
RALPH J. LEE
Assistnat United States Attorney
Id. No. USA004
P.O. Box 600
Jacksonville, FL 32201
Telephone: (904) 232-3509
Facsimile: (904) 232-2620