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COLON v. TOMPKINS SQUARE NEIGHBORS

April 26, 1968

Rosalyn COLON et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TOMPKINS SQUARE NEIGHBORS, INC., et al., Defendants


Tenney, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TENNEY

MEMORANDUM (April 26, 1968)

TENNEY, District Judge.

 Plaintiffs move this Court pursuant to Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an order permitting the commencement of discovery proceedings prior to the expiration of twenty (20) days from the filing date of the complaint herein.

 Plaintiffs, members of a class composed of Negro and Puerto Rican Welfare recipients, all of whom allege that they are presently occupants of substandard or inadequate housing, are applicants for admission to Haven Plaza, a middle-income housing project located on Avenue C between 12th and 13th Streets in the Borough of Manhattan, City of New York, consisting of 371 apartment units.

 Defendant Tompkins Square Neighbors, Inc. (referred to hereinafter as "Defendant"), a redevelopment company organized under Article V of the New York Private Housing Finance Law, McKinney's Consol.Laws, c. 44-B, is a non-profit organization which owns and operates Haven Plaza. The corporate stock therein is owned by 6 churches and church-related organizations of that neighborhood.

 Initially, the housing company purchased the project site from the City of New York, the site being part of an area designated for urban renewal by the City, State and Federal governments. The development of this project allowed the company certain tax exemptions from the City as well as financial assistance in assuming the burden of the land purchase and construction costs in the form of an FHA-insured mortgage under Section 221(d)(3) of the National Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. ┬ž 1715 l (d)(3).

 The instant complaint seeks a declaratory judgment declaring unconstitutional and illegal, and for an injunction enjoining, certain policies and practices of defendant in its procedures for the selection of applicants for admission to the project. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that: (1) Defendant has violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in that its admission policy is structured on a quota system based on race and on applicants' status as Welfare recipients; and (2) Defendant has violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by virtue of its failure to publish a list of objective standards which defendant uses as a guideline for determining tenancy eligibility.

 Plaintiff moved on April 10, 1968, before Judge Tyler of this court, for a temporary injunction enjoining defendant from renting any of the remaining apartments until such time as the issues in the within action are determined on the merits, so as to reserve the present vacancies for plaintiffs herein in the event that they prevail in the outcome of the instant litigation. Judge Tyler, assuming arguendo the jurisdiction of this court, denied plaintiffs' motion on the grounds that insufficient evidence was presented upon which the relief sought could be justified at that time.

 In an effort to obtain sufficient evidence upon which a temporary injunction could be granted, plaintiffs, on April 18, 1968, brought on the within motion before this Court, specifically requesting an order providing for inspection and copying of:

 
1. All applications and requests for applications to Haven Plaza apartments.
 
2. All rules, regulations, directives, memoranda, letters, and correspondence relating to policies and procedures for the processing of applications and the determination of eligibility for admission.
 
3. All books, records, or other documents relating to the taking of applications, acceptance of applications and rejection of applications.
 
4. All correspondence between the defendant Tompkins Square Neighbors, Inc., its agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and the defendant JASON R. NATHAN, the City Agency, its agents, servants, and employees, relating to eligibility standards governing the admission of applicants and the processing of applications for Haven Plaza apartments.

 Defendant opposes this motion for discovery and inspection on the grounds that the information sought is highly confidential, and to subject this material to public exposure would destroy that element of candor necessary to a proper ...


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