PHA Not Required to Modify Affirmative Action Plan
Facts: In 1974, a group of residents sued the Toledo Metropolitan Housing Authority and HUD for segregating minorities from non-minorities when building and doling out housing. At the time, the court ruled for the residents and ordered adherence to an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) designed to correct these practices and undo their effects. Recently, the lead resident in that case asked the court to modify the AAP to address the changed realities that the PHA and HUD face today.
For example, the PHA has shifted to a stronger focus on administering Section 8 (the Housing Choice Voucher program); the racial makeup of public housing tenants has changed; and the PHA is rebuilding and repurposing inner city housing projects that were central to the original racial segregation finding.
Ruling: An Ohio district court denied the request to alter the AAP.
Reasoning: To alter the AAP, the resident must demonstrate that progress is not being made toward achieving the objectives of the AAP, of which there are three: reducing racial segregation in the PHA’s projects, remedying the effects of past discrimination, and assuring equal access to housing.
In 1985, the court said that the objective of remedying past discrimination “shall be achieved” by maintaining a specified ratio between minorities and non-minorities. The record shows that, at best, five family locations and one elderly location are within these ratios.
However, the PHA was able to show that it is making some progress towards desegregation (significant progress in elderly housing, moderate progress in family housing). Therefore, the resident’s motion to modify the AAP must be denied because she cannot meet the court’s 1985 standard for modification--namely, showing that progress toward the goal of desegregation isn’t being met.
The court further stated that the 3:1 and 1:1 ratios are outdated. And that with the practical application of waiting lists, resident preference, and the PHA’s shifting focus to Section 8 and to rebuilding troubled projects likely means that the PHA could act in a completely fair, nondiscriminatory, and non-segregationist manner and still never reach the point where it may achieve the prescribed ratios. The court saw these facts as a chance for collaboration between the residents and the PHA to revise the AAP in a way that addresses the need to continue the housing projects’ move toward desegregation while accounting for the modern realities on their own, but it could not order alteration of the AAP.
- Grayson v. Toledo Metropolitan Housing Authority, September 2012