PHA Not Guilty of Discrimination, Retaliation
Facts: Two married African-American residents, including a husband with a disability, claimed that the Section 8 unit in which they live failed to meet housing standards and that the Housing Authority of South Bend (HASB) didn't remedy the conditions they complained about.
Because of those complaints, the residents claimed that HASB staff members retaliated against them by failing to take remedial action and treating them rudely and poorly. The residents also alleged that, before their marriage and in retaliation for his complaints about unit conditions, HASB evicted the future husband from his previous unit while he was seriously ill and started legal proceedings against him when HASB knew he was hospitalized. The residents also alleged that HASB staff members did nothing to intervene to stop the bullying by another resident against them.
Finally, the residents claimed that the HASB site is “populated overwhelmingly by residents who are African American” or Latino, and that the “concentration of non-Caucasian residents” is “far out of proportion to the corresponding population figures for the City of South Bend or the County of St. Joseph. The residents claimed that this “concentration” occurred and remained because of HASB's “actions and acquiescence” and is the result of “intentional actions or deliberate indifference.”
The residents sued HASB and HUD, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. HASB asked the court to dismiss the case without a trial.
Ruling: The court sided with HASB and dismissed the case.
Reasoning: The court stated that it's not enough for the residents to present a series of acts that might entitle them to proceed with a lawsuit against the housing authority; their complaint must also show that they are entitled to proceed with a claim against HUD, which they failed to do, the court concluded.
The court pointed out that there is no allegation that HUD provided funding despite knowing that HASB engaged in segregation. There is no suggestion that HUD was ever asked to investigate the claims against HASB or that the concerns they described were ever brought to HUD's attention. Therefore, the court concluded, the residents’ claims against HUD should be dismissed.
The court also concluded that the husband's eviction from the prior unit was not related to his medical condition, and therefore, that claim should be dismissed.
Finally, the court concluded that the residents didn't present enough evidence to support their claim that HASB staff members permitted the bullying of the husband by at least one other resident and did nothing to intervene and stop it. Therefore, that claim should also be dismissed.
- Smith v. Housing Authority of South Bend and HUD, September 2010