MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Action No. 3:0 0-CV 1165-J-25A
AUTHORITY and CITY OF
- 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 units; and
- 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 westside site.
- 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 constitutes:
- 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 > >