Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
DIANE L. HOUK
ANA HENDERSON
ANTHONY F. ARCHEVAL
Attorneys
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section-G St.
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 353-9300
AH-4579
CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney
MICHAEL CHAGARES
United States Attorney's Office
970 Broad Street, Suite 700
Newark, N.J. 07102
(973)645-2839
MC-5483


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No.

BOROUGH OF BOUND BROOK,
NEW JERSEY,

Defendant.

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. The United States of America brings this action to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. ("the Fair Housing Act"), and pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).
  3. 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 City is the head of the City's executive branch, and the Council members are the Borough's legislative branch.
  4. 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.
  5. According to Census data, four (4%) percent of the Borough's population was Latino in 1970. The Borough's Latino population increased to seven (7%) percent by 1980 and to thirteen (13%) percent by 1990.
  6. Between 1990 and 2000, the Latino population in the Borough increased by 189%. According to the 2000 Census, the Borough's Latino population is thirty-five (35%) percent.
  7. The Latino population in Bound Brook is primarily Costa Rican, Salvadoran, and Mexican. Additionally, the Latino population in Bound Brook is racially Mestizo - that is, of European and Indigenous or Indian descent.
  8. The Borough contains several distinct neighborhoods or areas recognized by residents and officials:
    1. The West End area is the southwest corner of the Borough, roughly following Talmage Avenue bounded by Church Street to the East, Second Avenue to the North, Bridgewater Township to the West, and the Borough of South Bound Brook to the South. The West End area has a population of 2,397, of whom 1,382 (58%) are Latino;
    2. The Downtown area is the southeastern portion of the Borough, roughly following Main Street between Church Street to the West, Second Avenue and East Union Avenue to the North, Middlesex Borough to the East, and the Borough of South Bound Brook to the south. The Downtown area has a population of 899, of whom 509 (57%) are Latino;
    3. The North End area is the northern portion of the Borough, excluding the Bound Brook Apartments. It is bounded by Union Avenue to the South, Thompson Avenue to the East, and Bridgewater Township to the North and East. The North End has a population of 2,550, of whom 203 (8%) are Latino;
    4. The Bound Brook Apartments is the largest apartment complex in the Borough and is located in the northwestern corner of the Borough, bounded by Bridgewater Township to the north and west, Union Avenue to the south, and Thompson Avenue to the East. The Bound Brook Apartments has a population of 1,526, of whom 929 (61%) are Latino; and
    5. The transitional area of the Borough is located in the area bounded by Union Avenue to the north, Bridgewater Township to the west, Second Avenue to the south, and East Street to the east, and has a population of 2,783, of whom 518 (19%) are Latino.
  9. Beginning in the early 1990's, public hostility and opposition to the growing Latino population sharply increased. Residents made anti-Latino statements and statements that indicated their desire to limit or remove the Latinos from the Borough to their elected and appointed officials.
  10. As early as 1992, Borough officials also expressed hostility and opposition toward the growing Latino population, in both public and private forums, including anti-Latino statements and statements and actions indicating their motivation or desire to limit or remove the Latino population in the Borough.
  11. Beginning in at least 2000, messages were posted on the Bound Brook Forum, an Internet chat room hosted by New Jersey Online, expressing hostility toward Latino residents in the Borough. At least one Borough elected official used the Bound Brook Forum to solicit addresses for home inspections. Comments posted in response to these solicitations contained explicit racially derogatory statements about Latino residents of Bound Brook.
  12. Aware of and in response to the rapidly increasing Latino population and strong public hostility towards Latinos described above, the Borough undertook the following actions throughout the 1990's, and into the present, to limit, decrease, and/or remove Latinos living in the Borough:
    1. On March 8, 1994, the Borough adopted a new Property Maintenance Code which greatly restricted the number of people that could live in a dwelling unit and curtailed the areas of a dwelling that could legally be used for living purposes. Since the Code contained no grandfather provisions, households residing legally in the Borough under the previous Code found themselves in violation of the Code;
    2. Beginning at least in 1992 and increasing after enactment of the new Property Maintenance Code, the Borough engaged in selective enforcement of the Code and other zoning ordinances against Latino residents; and
    3. On February 1, 2000, the Borough adopted a Redevelopment Plan which calls for the elimination of nearly all residential uses in two areas: Area 1, which roughly coincides with the Downtown area, and Area 2, which roughly coincides with the West End area.
      1. The population of the combined redevelopment areas is 3,296, of whom 1,891 (57%) are Latino;
      2. The combined redevelopment areas contain 53% (1,891 of 3541) of the Borough's Latino population;
      3. The Redevelopment Plan does not provide sufficient replacement housing within the redevelopment areas to allow displaced Latino residents to return to the Borough after redevelopment, and there is not sufficient alternative housing elsewhere in the Borough to house displaced Latino residents; and
      4. The Redevelopment Plan will lead to the displacement of the largest Latino community in the Borough and over 50% of the Borough's total Latino population.
  13. The Borough's adoption of its Property Maintenance Code as described above has 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).
  14. The Borough's enforcement of its Property Maintenance Code as described above has made housing unavailable because of national origin, race, or color and also constitutes discrimination in 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(a) and Section 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a) and 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b).
  15. The Borough's adoption and imminent implementation of the redevelopment plan, will make 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).
  16. The conduct of the Borough, through its officials, described above, constitutes:
    1. 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
    2. 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.
  17. There are persons who have been injured by defendant's 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 Defendant's discriminatory conduct.
  18. Defendant's conduct has been intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of Latino residents of the Borough.

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:

  1. Declares that the actions of the Defendant described herein constitute violations of the Fair Housing Act;
  2. Enjoins the defendant, its officials, agents, and employees, and all other persons in active concert or participation with it, from continuing to discriminate on the basis of national origin, race, or color in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
  3. Requires such actions by the Defendant as may be necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by Defendant's discriminatory housing practices to the position they would have occupied but for the Defendant's discriminatory conduct;
  4. Awards monetary damages to each person aggrieved by Defendant's discriminatory housing practices pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(B); and
  5. Assesses a civil penalty against 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.

JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney
_________________________
MICHAEL CHAGARES
Civil Chief
United States Attorney's Office
970 Broad Street
Suite 700
Newark, N.J. 07102
(973)645-2839

R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief
Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section-G St.
DIANE L. HOUK
Special Litigation Counsel
ANA HENDERSON
ANTHONY F. ARCHEVAL
Trial Attorneys
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone: (202) 353-9300
Facsimile: (202) 514-1116


Document Entered March 12, 2004 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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