R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
ANTHONY F. ARCHEVAL
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section-G St.
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney
United States Attorney's Office
970 Broad Street, Suite 700
Newark, N.J. 07102
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
BOROUGH OF BOUND BROOK,
- This is a lawsuit brought by the United States alleging violations of Sections 804(a) and (b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a) and (b), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 ("the Act"). The United States' Complaint alleges that defendant, the Borough of Bound Brook, New Jersey, ("Borough") discriminated against Latino residents on the basis of national origin, race, and color which constituted a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured 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 raises an issue of general public importance.
- Defendant Borough of Bound Brook ("Borough") is a political subdivision of Somerset County in the State of New Jersey located within the District of New Jersey. The Mayor of the Borough is the head of the Borough's executive branch, and the Council members are the Borough's legislative branch. The Borough's Planning Board is comprised of eight members, in addition to the Mayor, who are appointed by the Mayor and the Council. The Planning Board governs, inter alia, the issuance of site plan waivers, zoning compliance, and enforcement of certain laws, ordinances, and regulations relating to the use and occupancy of buildings, including residential dwellings, located within the Borough's boundaries.
- Based upon evidence developed by the United States during its investigation of allegations of discrimination against Latino residents, the United States alleges that:
- According to United States Census data, the Latino share of the population in the Borough of Bound Brook grew from four (4%) percent in 1970 to thirty-five (35%) percent in 2000. From 1990 to 2000, the Borough's Latino population increased by 189%.
- The national origins of the Latino population in Bound Brook are primarily Costa Rican, Salvadoran, and Mexican. Additionally, some of the Latino population in Bound Brook is racially Mestizo - that is, of European and Indigenous or Indian descent. Moreover, a majority of the Latino population in Bound Brook has limited English proficiency.
- The Latino population is largely concentrated in two areas of the Borough: 26% of the Latino population lives in the Bound Brook Apartments, which is the largest apartment complex in the Borough, and 53% of the Latino population lives in the Downtown/West End area.
- Beginning in the early 1990's, the Borough and some of its elected officials and employees engaged in practices which made housing unavailable because of national origin, race, or color in violation of Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a) and/or discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of dwellings or in the provision of services because of national origin, race, or color in violation of Section 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b).
- At this time, the parties have agreed that, in order to avoid protracted and costly litigation, and without any admission of wrongdoing or liability by the Borough, this lawsuit should be resolved without further litigation, through the terms of this Order. Therefore, without a trial or adjudication on the merits, the United States and the defendant Borough of Bound Brook hereby consent to the entry of this Order, as indicated by the signature of counsel at the end of this document.
- "Affected Areas" - unless otherwise stated, refers to Areas 1 and 2 outlined in the Borough's 2000 Redevelopment Plan;
- "Redevelopment Area 1" - roughly coincides with the Downtown area of Bound Brook and includes Blocks 2, 2.01, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and Block 1, Lots 34-69 on the Tax Map of the Borough of Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey;
- "Redevelopment Area 2" - roughly coincides with the West End area of Bound Brook and includes Block l, Lots 1-33 and Blocks 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 13.01, 13.02,14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 on the Tax Map of the Borough of Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey;
- "Bound Brook Apartments" - is the largest apartment complex in the Borough and is located in the northwestern corner of the Borough of Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey;
- "Latino" - for purposes of this Decree and identification of the affected population in Bound Brook, includes individuals originating and/or descending from the Spanish or Portuguese speaking Latin American countries;
- "PMC" shall refer to the Borough's Property Maintenance Code;
- SCOPE AND TERM OF DECREE
All provisions of this Decree shall apply to the Borough, its council members, officials, employees, contractors, agents, assigns, and anyone acting in whole or in part under the direction of the Borough in connection with the governance of the Borough's residents or any redevelopment which affects residential uses in the affected areas.
The provisions of this Decree shall be effective immediately upon the signature and entry of this Decree by the Court. The Court shall retain jurisdiction for the duration of this Consent Decree to enforce the terms of the Decree, after which time the case shall be dismissed with prejudice. The Decree shall remain in effect for ten (10) years, except for Sections V and VII, which shall remain in effect for five (5) years. In the event there is a material and substantial failure by the Defendant to satisfy the terms or provisions of the Decree, the United States may file a motion requesting that the term of the Decree be extended. A motion to extend the Decree must be filed no later than sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the Decree.
- INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
- It is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that the Defendant Borough of Bound Brook, New Jersey, its employees, agents, officials, and successors, and all those acting in concert or participation with them, are hereby ENJOINED, generally and specifically, for the term of the Decree, from:
- Making dwellings unavailable or denying dwellings to any person because of national origin, race, or color;
- Discriminating in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the sale or rental of dwellings, or in the provision of facilities and services in connection therewith, because of national origin, race, or color;
- Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement regarding the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, or color; and
- Coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his/her having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his/her having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by the Act.
- PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CODE
- The Borough has attached hereto as Exhibit A, its ordinance adopting the 2000 International Property Maintenance Code ("IPMC") and certain amendments ("2003 Property Maintenance Code"). This code, along with such amendments, as described in Exhibit A, hereby constitute the Borough's new Property Maintenance Code (PMC). Any amendments or modifications to the Borough's PMC during the term of the Decree shall be consistent with the requirements of the Decree and the Fair Housing Act. If the Borough amends or otherwise changes any of the Borough's PMC during the term of the Decree, the Borough shall notify the United States in writing within thirty (30) days of such action by providing a copy of the amended or modified provision.
- The Borough shall provide notice, in both English and Spanish, to residents regarding the Borough's new PMC as described below. The notice shall include an explanation of at least the following: new occupancy allowances, eligible sleeping quarters, tenants' rights and responsibilities, the Borough's enforcement and inspection procedures, tenants' rights to language assistance, tenants' complaint procedures and rights to appeal, and the Department of Justice's contact information. Such notice including its content, Spanish translation, font-size, and color, shall be submitted for the United States' approval no later than thirty (30) days from the entry of this Decree. Within thirty (30) days of the United States' approval, the Borough shall provide a copy of the Notice to every address listed in the Borough's tax property records, including each unit located at the actual property, and the owner's address, if different from the property location, and shall post the Notice in every municipal governmental office in the Borough. Such notices shall be placed in an unobscured, prominent, well-lit location, at eye level--between four and six feet above the ground. Throughout the term of this Order, the Borough shall provide copies of the Notice to any person who requests it.
- The Borough shall remove mandatory minimum fines for PMC violations related to occupancy from its statutes and ordinances. This shall not apply to fines for life hazard issues, such as provision of water, heat, or electricity.
- Prior to issuing a summons for an overcrowding violation, the Borough shall provide written notice, in both English and Spanish, to the residents, or owners if only the owners are served with a summons for the violation, of the alleged overcrowded dwelling and at least twenty-four (24) hours to correct such violation. Beginning thirty (30) days after the entry of this Decree, the twenty-four hour notice requirement shall not apply if the Borough verifies through its records that the residents, or owners if only the owners are served with a summons for the violation, of the dwelling unit have been subject to prior warnings or summonses for overcrowding within the preceding thirty (30) days.
- BILINGUAL COORDINATOR
- A. Within thirty (30) days from the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall submit to the United States, for prior approval, the job descriptions and advertisements for the a new Borough employee position - Bilingual Coordinator. Upon approval, but no later than five (5) business days from the date of the United States' approval, the Borough shall send an advertisement for the position to the Star Ledger, Bound Brook Chronicle, El Nuevo Coqui, and La Voz, Mensaje newspapers for publication. The advertisement shall contain not less than 75 words, specify that the Borough seeks someone who speaks, reads, writes, and translates English and Spanish, and shall provide a general overview of the Bilingual Coordinator's tasks described in Section VI.B below. The advertisement shall be run for a period of two weeks in each issue of each newspaper. Within the same time period, the Borough shall post an advertisement for the position on the website for the New Jersey League of Municipalities (http://www.njslom.org/). If the position is not filled, the position shall be advertised in the above news papers and website and also in The Courier News in each issue for an additional two weeks. Within thirty (30) days after the last advertisement, the Borough shall hire an individual to fill the position of Bilingual Coordinator. If no qualified individual is identified, the Borough shall again advertise the position in Bound Brook Chronicle, El Nuevo Coqui, La Voz, Mensaje, Star Ledger, Courier News and on http://www.njslom.org/ for thirty (30) days or until a Bilingual Coordinator is hired, whichever is less. If the Borough is still unable to find a qualified candidate after following this process, it shall notify the United States to obtain its assistance in hiring a Bilingual Coordinator.
- The Bilingual Coordinator shall be fully proficient in speaking, reading, writing, and translating both Spanish and English. The Bilingual Coordinator's job duties will include: 1) providing assistance and/or information to Spanish-speaking residents and potential residents contacting Borough offices about housing-related matters or using housing-related Borough services; 2) providing assistance and/or information regarding housing-related issues to Spanish speaking residents and potential residents of Bound Brook regarding, among other things, property maintenance code requirements, rights and responsibilities as a home owner or renter, code enforcement and inspections, and residential summons; 3) providing assistance and/or information to Spanish speaking residents and potential residents of Bound Brook regarding redevelopment, including but not limited to, the contents of redevelopment plans, relocation, and rights of displaced residents; 4) accompanying any Borough official who conducts a residential code enforcement inspection where the residents are Spanish-speaking, as described in Sections VII.D. & E below; and 5) notifying Borough residents of his/her duties and responsibilities as the Bilingual Coordinator and the availability of such services to all Borough residents. The Bilingual Coordinator shall be a full time Borough employee during the term of the Decree. The Borough shall compensate the Bilingual Coordinator in a manner sufficient to employ a person with the skills and ability to perform the job duties required by the Decree. Nothing in this Decree shall require the Borough to continue the Bilingual Coordinator position after the Decree's expiration.
- Within five (5) business days of the Bilingual Coordinator's hire, such individual shall read the Consent Decree and certify in writing that s/he has read and understands the provisions of the Consent Decree. Such certification shall be submitted to the United States in accordance with Section XII.B. below.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT
- Identification of the title(s) of the officials and/or personnel who will have the duties and responsibilities to initiate, conduct, and authorize enforcement of any provisions under the new PMC;
- For each such official and/or personnel, a complete list of duties and responsibilities related to code enforcement;
- The chain of command and/or organizational chart indicating all Borough officersand employees who will have duties and responsibilities directly related to thecode enforcement process. This shall indicate which officials and/or employees will supervise the process and will be accountable for the code enforcement process;
- The circumstances under which the Bilingual Coordinator shall be involved in inspections as a part of his/her official duties and responsibilities, including accompanying Borough inspectors who are not fluent Spanish-speakers on residential inspections of households believed to be comprised of one or more Spanish-speaking residents;
- Direction that any residential inspection by an inspector who is not a fluent Spanish-speaker must be abandoned if it is determined that none of the adult residents then present in the dwelling speaks English proficiently, and that in such circumstances, the residential inspection may not be resumed without the presence of the Bilingual Coordinator or an inspector who is a fluent Spanish-speaker;
- Residential inspections shall not be conducted by uniformed law enforcement officials, nor shall Borough inspectors be accompanied by uniformed law enforcement officials, unless there is a reasonable concern of violence occurring during the inspection. The basis for the concern must be included on the Inspection Log described in Section VII.G.6 for any inspection in which uniformed law enforcement officials participate;
- New guidelines for residential code enforcement inspections, including the following terms:
- Residential inspections shall be conducted during normal business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on non-Holiday weekdays, except as provided in Sections VII.G.2 and VII.G.5.
- Residential inspections conducted on weekdays between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. or on Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. shall be conducted only under the following circumstances:
- A detailed written record of, at least, two (2) previous failed attempts on two (2) different days to inspect during normal business hours; and
- A certification by each Borough official and/or agent present at the inspection verifying the requisite notification regarding the residents' rights and responsibilities; proper request to inspect; specific authorization to inspect; amount of time conducting the inspection; areas of residence inspected; individuals interviewed or spoken to during inspection; and status of alleged violations, as required in the inspection log.
- No residential code enforcement inspection shall be conducted without first providing notice to a resident(s) of their rights regarding whether or not to permit an inspection. The Borough inspection official shall provide such notice orally and in writing, and where the subject of an inspection has limited English proficiency and speaks Spanish, or the level of English proficiency is unknown, such notice shall be provided in Spanish as well as English. The Borough shall include the proposed text of this notice as part of its submission to the United States for its approval;
- No residential code enforcement inspection shall be conducted without first obtaining consent from the resident(s) of the subject property. Consent means that the Borough officials provide the notice as required in item 3 above, confirm that the individual is in fact a resident of the dwelling and consents to the inspection. Under no circumstance shall a Borough official, agent, or employee enter a residence for the purpose of conducting an inspection without announcing his or her presence and obtaining authorization to enter.
- No residential inspections shall be conducted after 9 p.m. and before 8 a.m., except under emergency circumstances, such as if Borough Police, Fire, or Medical Emergency personnel, during the course of responding to an emergency at a dwelling, witness life-hazard violations of the PMC and alert the Code Official of such suspected life-hazard violations, the Code Official may conduct an inspection within 12 (twelve) hours of notification.
- Record-keeping procedures, including but not limited to the following record logs, forms, and/or documents:
- Complaint Form and Investigation Form, set forth at Exhibit B, which shall record: the date and time of complaint, name of complainant, address and telephone number of complainant, address of property for which complaint is made, nature of complaint, details of alleged violations, basis for or evidence supporting complaint, identity of any other witnesses; date, time, and manner of initial contact and all subsequent contacts; name and title of any and all Borough officials, agents, employees, and/or individuals acting on behalf of the Borough involved in the contact; whether the subject of the complaint is proficient in English and/or what language the subject speaks; record of substantive investigation conducted; and the outcome of such investigation, whether to end investigation without further action, continue investigation, and/or conduct an inspection;
- Inspection Log, set forth at Exhibit C, which shall record: date and time of inspection; verification that resident was provided proper notice (oral/written, English/Spanish) regarding the inspection and his/her rights and responsibilities; that Borough official(s) requested permission to enter the premises and inspect; that the resident(s) or owner(s) gave authorization for inspection; the duration of the inspection; areas of residence inspected; individuals interviewed or spoken to during inspection; the results of the inspection, including specified PMC violations, if any; evidence of violations uncovered; date on which violation was or will be referred for prosecution; dates of notices of prosecution; court and hearing dates; settlements or pleas; and dates case closed, or whether no evidence of a violation was found.
- Direction that if a complaint made to the Borough lacks the basis for the complaint or the identity of the complainant, Borough inspectors must take some independent action or investigation to verify a basis for the complaint exists prior to conducting an inspection. Such independent action or investigation shall be recorded in writing on the Complaint and Investigation Form.
- Training and/or reference materials for use by the Code Enforcement Officer(s) which delineate the procedures such officer(s) must follow in taking complaints, investigating complaints, and conducting inspections.
- This decree does not affect: (1) the Borough's ability to conduct an inspection if it has obtained a court-issued warrant to search the premises or (2) Borough police authority to enter a residence when responding to a potential violation of zoning, land use, property maintenance, or other similar laws.
- Within thirty (30) days from the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall submit to the United States, for review, its proposed Request For Proposal ("RFP") regarding contracting with a redevelopment consultant or planner who will create a new redevelopment plan or draft amendments to the plan for the Borough in accordance with this Decree. The United States shall provide any comments regarding the proposed RFP to the Borough within fifteen (15) days of receipt. Upon approval, but no later than five (5) business days from the date of the United States' approval, notice of the RFP shall be sent for advertisement on the New Jersey League of Municipalities website ( http://www.njslom.org), for a period of thirty (30) days. All costs and expenses for advertising the RFP shall be paid by the Borough.
The Borough shall seek a redevelopment consultant/planner, licensed by the State of New Jersey with prior experience developing commercial and residential redevelopment plans in racially and/or ethnically diverse communities, including mixed-income and multi-family housing in communities with provisions for affordable replacement housing. S/he shall also have demonstrated knowledge and/or experience regarding state and local land use laws, federal and state fair housing and housing relocation statutes. Within sixty (60) days after the last RFP advertisement, the Borough shall select a consultant who satisfies the foregoing minimum requirements to assist the Borough in creating and establishing a new or amended Redevelopment Plan in accordance with the provisions in ¶¶ B and C below.
- Within ninety (90) days from the date the redevelopment consultant is hired, the consultant shall produce a Housing Analysis of the housing stock currently located in the affected areas of Bound Brook. Such Analysis shall include, but not be limited to, the following housing characteristics: unit size, number of bedrooms, housing tenure (e.g. rental vs. owner-occupied), housing costs (e.g. rent or mortgage), number of units per structure and whether housing occupancy is limited to seniors, persons with disabilities or has other occupancy restrictions.
- Within ninety (90) days from the date upon which the redevelopment consultant completes the Housing Analysis, the consultant shall provide to the United States for its review a new or amended Redevelopment Plan for the affected areas. The Borough shall consider the Amended Plan in accordance with its obligations under this Decree and its other obligations under the law. In formulating the new or amended plan and any specific redevelopment projects, the planner and the Borough shall consider and integrate the following guiding principles:
- Procedures for identifying existing, habitable, and structurally sound housing units and, where economically feasible, retaining such units;
- Replacement of no less than 50% of the housing units (1) eliminated by the Plan or individual project(s), so current residents in the affected area(s) can continue to live in the Borough. Replacement housing may not consist solely of senior living centers, one-bedroom or studio apartments;
- Replacement housing units must contain at least the same number of bedrooms as the housing units being replaced as part of redevelopment. Planned replacement housing units must attempt to meet current residents' needs in terms of housing cost and type (rental or owner-occupied);
- Priority for displaced residents to rent or buy newly constructed and/or renovated dwelling units under the New or Amended Plan with specific verification procedures for identifying displaced residents prior to and after displacement;
- Affordable housing units (2) may be located throughout the Borough but shall not be concentrated in any one residential development or portion therein. To avoid further concentration of affordable housing in the Bound Brook Apartments area of Bound Brook, redevelopment will refrain from constructing and/or locating replacement units in the Bound Brook Apartments or within a three (3) block radius of the Bound Brook Apartments;
- The Plan shall clearly state that non-conformance with new zoning classifications and minimum/maximum residential use specifications, such as property lot dimensions, setbacks and building coverage, standing alone is not a sufficient basis to condemn a residential property. It shall detail that, in conformance with New Jersey redevelopment law, condemnation for redevelopment purposes can only be pursued under a specific redevelopment project;
- To the greatest extent possible, redevelopment shall be pursued in a synchronized and incremental fashion so that a) replacement housing units are created prior to the initiation of new projects which will displace residents and b) current residents' ability to find replacement and/or temporary housing is maximized.
- Detailed relocation plan in accordance with federal and state relocation regulations, guidelines, and provisions, including but not limited to moving expenses, security deposits and rents. The relocation plan shall include specific procedures for providing notices of benefits, expected timetables, priorities for newly created housing opportunities and relocation procedures in English and Spanish. In addition, the relocation plan will include use of a non-profit organization to assist the Borough in administering culturally- and linguistically-competent housing counseling and relocation services under the Plan; and
- Fair housing policies and procedures that include a) methods to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability in the rental, sale or financing of housing and b) a requirement to design and construct new housing units in compliance with Section 3604(f)(3)(C) of the Fair Housing Act and all other applicable federal, state and local accessibility requirements.
- The United States shall notify the Borough in writing of including any concerns it has about the Plan, no later than ninety (90) days after receipt of the Plan.
- The consultant(s) retained in accordance with this Section, as well as any and all employees, agents, volunteers, etc. working with such consultant or to assist relocation efforts, shall certify that s/he has read this Consent Decree, understands its terms and conditions, acknowledges that s/he has been hired pursuant to this Decree and for the purposes of its implementation in accordance with the provisions outlined herein. The text for this certification is set forth in Appendix __. The consultant(s) may consult with the United States regarding the Redevelopment Plan without prior notice to or inclusion of the Borough or any of its agents or employees.
- In each Quarterly Report, outlined in Section XII.B. below, the Borough shall provide a status report on the creation of the new or amended redevelopment plan, its implementation and progress, and/or any delays or problems thereto. Additionally, the Borough shall provide the United States notice of any substantive changes and modifications or delays regarding redevelopment in accordance with Section XII.A. below.
- If the Borough elects not to adopt the new or amended redevelopment plan, the Borough shall certify to the United States that it has abandoned its plans to redevelop the affected areas. If, during the term of this Decree, the Borough should subsequently seek to pursue redevelopment of the affected areas or any portion thereof, it shall provide notice to the United States; any such subsequent redevelopment, whether or not it proceeds pursuant to the new or amended plan, must comply with the provisions of Section VIII.C., above.
- MONETARY RELIEF
- The Borough agrees to compensate persons harmed by its conduct, as set forth herein. Claims will only be considered to the extent that they arose after March 1, 1996 and before March 1, 2002. The Borough, through its insurer the Middlesex County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund ("MCMJIF"), shall make payments to aggrieved persons as set forth below. The total amount awarded for claims shall not exceed four hundred and twenty five thousand dollars ($425,000.00). The funds shall be held by the Amboy National Bank and shall be used only to pay claims by eligible claimants with interest accruing to MCMJIF. Any unexpended funds shall be returned to MCMJIF. Only individuals who establish residency in the Borough at the time of the alleged violations and who otherwise meet the requirements shall be eligible to submit a claim. Individuals may only submit one claim. Individuals subject to multiple inspections may only submit one claim but are eligible for consideration of additional damages pursuant to Section IX.A.2.a below. Claims for damages shall be evaluated in accordance with the following categories and subject to the following additional factors:
- Categories of damages:
- Individuals whose residence was inspected for alleged violations of the Borough's 1994 code provisions because of national origin, race, or color, but for whom no violation was found or no charge was issued will receive a baseline award of $2,500.00; this baseline award may be increased if augmenting factors are present, with no more than $25,000 paid per claim.
- Individuals whose residence was inspected for alleged violations of the Borough's 1994 code provisions because of national origin, race, or color, who were cited, prosecuted and/or evicted for alleged violations, and who were found not guilty after adjudication will receive a baseline award of $5,000; this baseline award may be increased if augmenting factors are present, with not more than $35,000 paid per claim.
- Individuals whose residence was inspected for alleged violations of the Borough's 1994 code provisions because of national origin, race, or color, who were cited, prosecuted and/or evicted for alleged violations, and who pled guilty may be eligible to receive an award, which depending on the presence of augmenting factors, may be up to $25,000 per claim.
- Individuals whose residence was inspected for alleged violations of the Borough's 1994 code provisions because of national origin, race, or color, who were cited, prosecuted and/or evicted for alleged violations, and who were found guilty may eligible to receive an award, which depending on the presence of augmenting factors, may be up to$25,000 per claim.
- Individuals who incurred expenses associated with or whose real estate rental business was damaged by the Borough's harassment, inspection, prosecution, and/or eviction of their tenants on the basis of national origin, race, or color, where no violation was found or the tenant or owner was found not guilty of the charged violation, will receive compensation for actual economic loss, such as business expenses, caused by the Borough's actions. Any amount awarded pursuant to this category will not exceed $25,000.
- Additional factors which will augment the award made to any individual claimant:
- More than one inspection with no violation found.
- Inspection conducted after 7 p.m, or on weekends, without prior notice.
- Inspection conducted between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- Inspection conducted or dwelling entered without consent, including but not limited to notice to resident of purpose of visit and of right to refuse entry.
- Inspection conducted by non-Spanish-speaking uniformed law enforcement officials where no resident aged 18 or older spoke English proficiently.
- Borough officials did not provide Spanish translation or information to Spanish-speaking occupant(s), if no occupant aged 18 or older spoke English proficiently.
- Inspection conducted subsequent to anonymous complaint received on the Bound Brook chat room maintained on http://www.nj.com.
- Borough inspector(s) used derogatory language, engaged in demeaning conduct, or treated occupant(s) in intimidating manner during inspection.
- Borough failed to act on complaint lodged by occupant(s) about inspection or Borough inspector(s).
- Individuals received medical treatment for personal injuries caused by the Borough's action.
- Categories of damages:
- Other forms of relief to be provided to victims:
- For victims awarded damages pursuant to Section IX.A. above who were convicted of or pled guilty to violations of the 1994 PMC, the Borough shall not object to the expunging of such victim's criminal records regarding housing code violations; and any liens or property assessments shall be removed.
- The Borough shall take the following steps to notify potential aggrieved persons of their opportunity to file complaints with the United States:
- Within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Decree, and two times again during the next two months, defendant shall publish a Notice to Potential Victims of Housing Discrimination ("Notice"), attached hereto as Exhibit D, in both English and Spanish, in the following newspapers: Bound Brook Chronicle, El Nuevo Coqui, La Voz, Mensaje, Star Ledger and Courier News. The Notice shall be published in an area not less than 1/4 of a page for each newspaper and shall be in Spanish in Spanish-language newspapers and English in English-language newspapers. Defendant shall also provide recitations and/or announcements of such Notice, in both English and Spanish, on the following radio stations: "Amor" WPAT-FM (93.1 FM) and WADO (1280 AM). The Borough shall provide such radio announcements ten times, during peak listening hours, during the first thirty day period after entry of the Decree. The Borough shall also post the text of the notice on the Bound Brook chat room run by New Jersey Online. The Borough shall notify counsel for the United States in writing of the date on which the last such Notice was published or aired within ten (10) days of its publication or radio spot and shall at that time also provide copies of the written Notices as published and confirmation of the radio spots (e.g. invoices).
- Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall send the Notice to all addresses within the Borough as well as to property owners with the request that it be forwarded to and/or posted for tenants.
- Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall post such Notice at all Borough-owned or public properties, including Borough Hall and Bound Brook public library.
- Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall read the text of the Notice at all public meetings of the Borough Council and Planning Board for a period of ninety (90) days or three Borough Council meetings, whichever is later.
- The Borough shall make available upon request copies of the Notice in English and Spanish to any individual, business, or institution or state or local government body who requests them.
- All complaints must be received by the United States within ninety (90) days after the entry of this Order, or thirty (30) days after the Borough publishes its last announcement, which ever is later. Complaints received after the cutoff date will not be considered.
- Within thirty (30) days after the cut-off date, the United States shall perform a preliminary review of complaints received, shall determine which complaints potentially fall within the parameters of this Order, and shall furnish to the Borough a list of claims under consideration ("list of potential claims").
- Within thirty (30) days of receiving the list of potential claims, the Borough shall furnish to the United States any documents within its custody or control which pertain to the individuals or facts at issue in each potential claim.
- Within ninety (90) days of receiving documents from the Borough, the United States shall investigate all potential claims, evaluate the claims under the criteria set forth above, and provide the Borough with a list of final claims and the amount which the United States believes each claim should be awarded.
- Within thirty (30) days of the Borough's receipt of the list of final claims, representatives of the Borough, the MCMJIF, and the United States shall meet to discuss the parties' valuation of the various claims and attempt to reconcile any disputes in amounts.
- Within sixty (60) days of the Borough's receipt of the list of final claims, the Borough shall provide the United States with its determination of each final claim.
- If the parties are unable to agree upon an amount for one or more claims, the parties consent to the appointment by the Court of a special master, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 53, who shall make a determination as to the amount the claim(s) should receive. The parties shall petition the Court to appoint a special master who works in the Newark, NJ area and who charges an hourly rate of less than $400.00 per hour. The United States shall appear on behalf of the claimant in any proceedings before the special master. Any claimant may opt out of the special master review, but in so doing will abandon his or her ability to receive compensation pursuant to this Decree. The Borough is responsible for the fees and costs of the special master.
- The Borough shall permit representatives of the United States to review any records in its possession or control or the possession or control of any of its employees, agents, or representatives that the United States believes to be useful in identifying persons who may be entitled to relief under this Decree. Upon reasonable notice, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to make this inspection on any business day as early as the day after entry of this Decree. Upon request for production of documents and/or information to defendant, defendant shall produce such documents and/or information to the United States no later than ten (10) business days after such request is made.
- In order to receive compensation, aggrieved persons must provide information about their claim, by submitting a signed Proof of Claim in the form of Exhibit E to the United States.
- No claimant shall be eligible to receive compensation under this Consent Decree without first signing a Release in the form of Exhibit F, attached hereto, releasing the Borough, its employees, agents, representatives and the MCMJIF from all liability related to the allegedly illegal inspections of the claimant's residence or business and the alleged violations of Sections 804(a) and 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3064(a) and 3064(b), by the Borough and/or its employees, agents or representatives. Such claimant shall forward his or her signed, notarized release to the United States. Where a claim is made on behalf of a minor child, one or both parents or guardians shall execute a release on said minor's behalf. The United States shall forward the claimant's original, signed release and Proof of Claim to the Borough with copies to the MCMJIF.
- In order to vindicate the public interest, Defendant shall also pay the United States the sum of thirty thousand ($30,000) dollars to constitute a civil penalty. A check for $30,000 shall be made payable and forwarded to the United States within thirty (30) days of the date of this Decree.
- EDUCATION AND TRAINING
- The Borough shall make available training to current and future Borough officials, employees, and contractors as set forth below:
- Within sixty (60) days from the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall provide training to current Borough officials, employees, and contractors in the following job classifications or performing job duties related to: Council members; Borough Administrator; Mayor; Planning and Zoning Board Members; Redevelopment Committee Members; Building Inspector; Code Complaint or Enforcement Intake; Construction Code Official; Zoning Officer; Code Enforcement Officer; PMC Hearing Officer; Court Personnel; Bilingual Coordinator.
- All Borough employees shall be required to attend such training. All non-employees identified in Section X.A.1, above, (Council Members, Mayor, and Planning and Zoning Board Members) shall be encouraged to attend.
- The Borough shall contract with one or more third-party entities to conduct the training subject to approval by the United States. The training shall cover: a) the Fair Housing Act, as amended; b) state and local housing discrimination laws; and c) effectively working with and providing information to individuals of varied ethnic and racial backgrounds including recent immigrants to the United States who may have limited English proficiency.
- Once a year for the duration of this Decree, the Borough shall provide the above training for newly employed, appointed, or elected Borough employees, officials, and contractors performing the job duties listed in Section X.A.1., above. These annual training sessions may be performed by screening of a video tape or DVD recording of the first live session or of another training video or DVD approved by the United States.
- All individuals attending the training program pursuant to the requirements of this Section shall have their attendance certified, on the form set forth in G, in writing by the personExhibit conducting the training. Such certification shall be forwarded to the United States in accordance with Section XII.B. below.
- The Borough shall inform its current employees, elected officials and contractors of the contents of this Decree as follows:
- Within thirty (30) days from the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall furnish to each Borough employee, non-employee elected official and contractor performing the job duties listed in Section X.A.1., above, a copy of this Decree and inform each such employee, official or contractor of the duties of the Borough and its employees, official and contractors pursuant to the Decree;
- For the duration of this Decree, each new employee, non-employee elected official and contractor of the Borough performing the job duties listed in Section X.A.1. above, shall be given a copy this Decree and informed of the duties of the Borough and its employees, officials and contractors pursuant to this Decree within thirty (30) days after beginning employment;
- The Borough shall secure the signed certification, attached hereto as Exhibit H, from each such employee, contractor, and elected official indicating that he or she has received, read, and understands this Consent Decree and the policy of nondiscrimination mandated by it and further understands that his/her violation of this Decree may result in sanctions against the Borough; and
- The certifications prescribed herein shall be submitted to the United States in the following Quarterly Report in accordance with Section XII.B. below and maintained by the Borough for the duration of this Decree.
- RECORD-KEEPING REQUIREMENTS
- REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
All documents or information which the Borough must provide to the United States pursuant to this Decree shall be provided in the following manner unless otherwise so directed by counsel for the United States:
- Documents or information to which the United States must respond within forty-five (45) days or less shall be provided to the United States via facsimile to (202) 514-1116 unless the document is longer than twenty (20) pages, in which case the document shall be sent to the United States via private overnight mail service to 1800 G St. NW, Ste. 7009; Washington, DC 20006;
- Documents or information to which the United States must respond within forty-six (46) days or more may be sent in the form delineated above or by U.S. Mail to 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW - G St.; Washington, DC 20530.
- Quarterly Reports
No later than 90 days from the entry of this Decree, and every six (6) months thereafter for the duration of the Decree, the Borough shall serve on the United States a report containing the following information:
- Signed certifications described in Sections VI.C., VIII.E., and X.A-B, above, including for the certification in Section X.A.7, above, the date on which the Borough distributed copies of this Decree and the name of the elected official(s) to whom copies were distributed;
- Code enforcement inspection documents described in Section VII.F.6. above completed during the preceding 90 days;
- Status of Implementation of Redevelopment Plan described in Section VIII.F. above; and
- A description of any changes, alterations, or modifications to the Borough's zoning that has the potential to eliminate or add residential uses.
- DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURE
If differences arise between any of the parties with respect to compliance with, interpretation of, or implementation of the terms of this Decree, the parties shall make best efforts to resolve such differences promptly. The Borough shall provide the United States written notice of any delays or difficulties regarding any compliance provision contained within this Decree within five (5) business days from the date that any Borough official, agent, or employee receives actual notice of the delay or problem.
- Written Exchange and Consultation
If a party believes that an issue is not capable of resolution through informal discussions, it shall promptly provide written notification to the other party of the issue and the facts and circumstances relied upon in asserting its position. The party notified of the issue shall be given a reasonable period of time (not to exceed 30 days) to review the facts and circumstances and to either immediately remedy the alleged non-compliance and provide written notice of such remedy to the other party, or provide a written position statement regarding its responses to the allegations of noncompliance, including the facts and circumstances upon which it relies in asserting its position. In the event that the latter occurs, the parties shall immediately thereafter attempt to resolve their dispute through negotiation. If the dispute is not resolved within thirty (30) days after submission of the written position statement, either party may move the Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including enforcement of any of the provisions of this Decree and extension of the term of the Decree.
- COURT JURISDICTION
Within thirty (30) days from the entry of this Decree, the Borough shall submit a proposed written policy regarding its code enforcement procedures and guidelines to the United States for approval. The policy shall include the following detailed procedures:
During the term of this Decree, the Borough shall retain all records, forms, logs, reports, and other written documents that are relevant to this Decree. Upon reasonable notice to the Borough, the United States shall have the right to inspect and copy any of the documents or interview any individuals who may have information relevant to the Borough's compliance with this Decree. The United States shall pay the Borough its actual and reasonable costs associated with the copying of any documents requested by the United States pursuant to this Section, or, in the alternative, arrange for copying of documents at its own expense. The parties shall attempt to minimize any inconvenience during the inspection and copying of such records.
The parties agree that the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey shall retain jurisdiction of this action for all purposes relating to the enforcement of this Decree. The time limits for performance imposed by this Decree may be extended by mutual consent of the parties. Substantive modifications to the Decree may only be made by filing a joint statement to the Court seeking the Court's approval of such modifications.
It is so ORDERED this ________ day of ________________, 2004.
United States District Judge
By their signatures below, the Parties consent to entry of this Order:
For Plaintiff United States:
| Christopher J. Christie |
United States Attorney
| R. Alexander Acosta|
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
| ___________________________ |
Michael A. Chagares
Assistant United States Attorney
970 Broad Street, Suite 700
Newark, NJ 07102
| Steven H. Rosenbaum|
Anthony F. Archeval
Housing and Civil
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
(202) 514-1116 (fax)
For Defendant Borough of Bound Brook, New Jersey:
| ____________________________ |
Frank J. Ryan
Mayor, Borough of Bound Brook
Thomas R. Brodbeck
Clerk/Administrator, Borough of Bound Brook
Stuart M. Lederman
Counsel for Borough of Bound Brook, New Jersey
Riker, Danzig, Scherer
Hyland & Perretti LLP
One Speedwell Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07962-1981
Complaint ID No. ______
1. Initial complaint:
a. Date and Time Complaint Received:
b. Name of Complainant:
c. Complainant address and telephone number:
d. Address of property of complaint:
f. Supporting evidence of violation(s):
g. Possible code section(s) violated:
h. Name(s) and contact information of witness(es):
i. Recommended Action: ____ none _____ Borough investigation
j. Reasons for Borough investigation:
2. Borough Investigation:
a. Name of resident(s) and owner of property:
b. Date, time, and manner of contact(s) with resident and/or owner:
c. Borough officials involved in the contact:
d. Does an adult resident speak English proficiently? ___ yes ___ no
(if no, the Bilingual Coordinator or an inspector who is fluent in oral and written Spanish must be present for inspection)
e. Language resident speaks:
f. Details of investigation:
g. Recommended Action: ___ none ____ further investigation ____ inspection
h. Reasons for action:
Complaint ID No. ____
1. Date and time of inspection:
2. Did an adult resident speak English proficiently: ____ yes ____ no
2a. If no, was Bilingual Coordinator or inspector who can read and write Spanish fluently liaison present? ____ yes ____ no
2b. If no, was inspection suspended? ____ yes ____ no
3. If an adult resident did not speak English proficiently, was notice provided in Spanish?
3a. oral notice ___ yes ___ no
3b. written notice ___ yes ___no
4. Did Borough request permission to enter the premises and inspect? ___ yes ___ no
5. Did resident give authorization to enter and inspect? ____ yes ____ no
6. Areas of residence inspected:
7. Individuals interviewed or spoken to during inspection:
8. Findings of inspection: ____ no violation ____ violation
8a. PMC section(s) violated:
8b. Evidence of violation(s):
9. Action taken: _____ none ____ warning ____ summons
9a. Reason for this action:
10. Date of warning or summons:
11. Date violation referred for prosecution:
12. Court dates:
13. Settlement or pleas entered:
14. Date case resolved:
Exhibit D NOTICE TO POTENTIAL VICTIMS OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
IN BOUND BROOK, NEW JERSEY
On ______ , 2004, a Consent Decree was entered by a federal court resolving a housing discrimination lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice against the Borough of Bound Brook. The lawsuit alleged that Bound Brook discriminated against Latino Borough residents based on national origin, race, and color in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.
Under the court order, people who were harmed because of home or apartment inspections by the Borough or because of Borough redevelopment activities may receive monetary compensation. If you believe you have been discriminated against by the Borough of Bound Brook between March 1, 1996 and March 1, 2002 you may file a Claim Form. Please contact the Department of Justice if you, someone you live with, or someone you rent to is Latino and the any of the following events occurred:
- Your home or apartment was inspected by the Borough;
- You were prosecuted for violations of the Borough's property maintenance or zoning laws; or
- You were otherwise discriminated against because of your national origin, race or color by Borough officials regarding the Borough's property maintenance or zoning laws.
If you want to make a claim for discrimination on the basis of national origin, race or color, you must either call the United States Department of Justice at 1-800-896-7743, Extension 97 to request a Claim Form OR send a written request for a Claim Form by fax to:
U.S. Department of Justice,
Civil Rights Division, Housing Section
Attn: 175-48-239 Fax: 202-514-1116
You must file your Claim Form with the Department of Justice on or before [90 days after entry of order or 30 days after last Borough notice whichever is later]. The Claim Form must be postmarked no later than [same date] or sent by fax by that date.
The United States Department of Justice and the Borough of Bound Brook have signed a Consent Decree to resolve allegations of housing discrimination. The Consent Decree includes a claims process through which qualified residents and/or landlords of Bound Brook, NJ may file a claim for monetary compensation. Filling out this Claim Form is the first step of the claims process. Please fill out this form and mail it to:
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
ATTN: Section Chief
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. - NWB
Washington D.C. 20530
This Claim Form must be postmarked no later than _______________________ to be considered.
2. Current Address:_______________________________________________
3. Telephone Number: _____________________________
4. Other contact telephone number(s): ___________________________________
5. Please list the addresses where you lived in Bound Brook, NJ:
6. Did Bound Brook officials inspect or try to inspect your house or apartment at any time since _______(date)_______________?
If yes, please list the address(es) where you lived when this happened:
_________________________________________________________________Please give the approximate dates the Borough inspected or tried to inspect your house or apartment: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
(Answer these questions only if you rented out residential property in Bound Brook, NJ.)
8. Did Bound Brook officials inspect or try to inspect a residential property in Bound Brook, NJ that you owned and rented out at any time since _______(date)_______________?
If yes, please give the address of the residential property where the inspection or attempted inspection took place:
9. Please give the approximate dates the Borough inspected or tried to inspect your rental property:
10. Please list the names, contact information, and forwarding address information, if available, of the tenants who lived at each address at the time of the inspection or attempted inspection:
RELEASE OF CLAIMS
In consideration for the covenants and agreements made and reflected in the Consent Order entered in United States v. Borough of Bound Brook, Civ. No. ________, as well as in consideration of the payment to me of ______________ dollars, I hereby release all claims, including attorney fees, that I may have against defendant Borough of Bound Brook, its employees, agents, representatives and the Middlesex County Joint Insurance Fund ("MCJIF") from all liability related to the allegedly illegal inspections of the my residence or business and the alleged violations of Sections 804(a) and 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3064(a) and 3064(b), by the Borough and/or its employees, agents or representatives. I further understand that the release of claims shall be binding upon my heirs, successors, and any and all persons acting in concert with me.
I also acknowledge that I have had the opportunity to review the terms of this Release with an attorney of my choosing, and to the extent that I have not obtained that legal advice, I voluntarily and knowingly waive my right to do so.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
COUNTY OF _____________________
SUBSCRIBED and sworn to before
me this _________ day of ___________________, 200_.
My Commission expires:
I _______________________________ , certify that the individuals listed below attended a training session regarding state and federal fair housing laws and working with and providing information to individuals of varied ethnic and racial backgrounds including recent immigrants to the United States who may have limited English proficiency on ______________________.
(Date of training)________________________________
Name, title ________________________________
List of Attendees:
I, _____________________________________ , certify that I have read Consent Decree entered in United States v. Borough of Bound Brook, New Jersey , understand the Consent Decree and the policy of nondiscrimination mandated by it, and further understand that my violation of this Consent Decree may result in sanctions against the Borough of Bound Brook, New Jersey._______________________________
Print Name _______________________________
1. Housing units do not include hotel or student dormitory rooms or suites.
2. A housing unit is affordable if the rent or mortgage amount is no more than 30% of the monthly income of households earning less than 80% of the area median income.
Document Entered: March 12, 2004 > >