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BROOKHAVEN HOUS. COALITION v. KUNZIG

April 19, 1972

BROOKHAVEN HOUSING COALITION et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Robert L. KUNZIG, Administrator, General Services Administration, et al., Defendants


Judd, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JUDD

MEMORANDUM AND TEMPORARY INJUNCTION ORDER

JUDD, District Judge.

 Plaintiffs have moved for a preliminary injunction against (a) the occupancy by General Services Administration (GSA) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of a new building being constructed in the Town of Brookhaven, and (b) the disposal by GSA of surplus housing facilities at Suffolk Air Force Base (AFB).

 The Papers

 The action is brought by organizations interested in civil rights and civic affairs and by individual residents of the Town of Brookhaven, who complain that adequate housing for low income and minority groups is not available in the Town of Brookhaven and that General Services Administration should have obtained assurance of the provision of adequate housing before locating a substantial federal installation in that town. The installation, a new processing center for the Internal Revenue Service, is nearing completion on land leased from the Town of Brookhaven to GSA.

 Plaintiffs rely on an Executive Order issued by the President of the United States which requires that consideration be given, in the selection of sites for federal facilities, to the impact of the new facility on the community, and that GSA obtain advice from the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Health, Education and Welfare, and Commerce. Executive Order No. 11512, quoted below. Without apparently obtaining any formal advice, GSA has relied on a 1967 survey of housing in Suffolk County, prepared by the Federal Housing Administration, and on assurances by the Town of Brookhaven that it will in the near future construct low income housing units for approximately 431 families.

 The moving papers recite that the population of Brookhaven increased by 121 percent between 1960 and 1970, that 3,000 housing units are deteriorated or dilapidated, that 16 percent of all housing units are sub-standard, and that there is a current need for 4,000 new housing units for low income persons, with the result that the Suffolk County Welfare Department is forced to place families in motels at costs as high as $1,200 per month. The vacancy rate for rental property in Suffolk County is stated to be 0.6 percent.

 Plaintiffs assert that the proposed housing development relied on by GSA has not been started, has not yet received tax abatement or permission to include federal rent supplement payments for some of its units, that it is located in a minority group community, where it will not promote racial integration, and that it will contain an inadequate number of three-bedroom units for large low-income families.

 The IRS facility is expected to employ about 4,000 people, many on a part-time or seasonal basis, which may mean that staff will come from lower-income categories. In fact, starting salaries of 75 percent of the personnel are stated to be $7,319 per year or lower.

 Plaintiffs assert that there is a pattern of racial discrimination in the housing market in Brookhaven.

 Federally-financed housing units are now available in the Town of Southampton, about 25 miles from the IRS facility, and close enough to provide housing for IRS employees. The IRS facility is on a four-lane highway. After the determination to locate the IRS facility in Brookhaven, these housing units, at Suffolk Air Force Base, were declared surplus by GSA. Plaintiffs assert that a major part of those units have three or more bedrooms, and are suitable for low income families, but that GSA, without waiting for the construction of Brookhaven's proposed low-income units, plans to convey the AFB units to a public agency of the Town of Southampton. Moreover, according to plaintiffs, GSA has required no assurance that the needs of low-income and minority residents will be met in the future use of these units, or that minority groups will be given representation in the management of the property.

 A housing development corporation funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity, known as HoMeS, Inc., has expressed its interest in assisting to utilize the AFB units in a manner consistent with plaintiffs' aims. Plaintiffs specifically request that GSA be directed to consider a proposal by HoMeS, Inc.

 Defendants point out that the AFB units are not yet paid for, being subject to a mortgage owed by a government owned corporation to the Harlem Savings Bank. The sale proposed by GSA will realize approximately $1,500,000, and permit partial payment of the mortgage balance of over $2,000,000. At oral argument, defendants' counsel stated that the Southampton proposal for the AFB units would shortly be submitted to a Congressional subcommittee for consideration.

 The Executive Order was issued on February 27, 1970, and was implemented in late 1971 by a Memorandum of Understanding between HUD and GSA. This Memorandum of Understanding stated that advice from regional offices of HUD would "constitute the principal basis for GSA's consideration of the availability of such housing," and that if HUD reported that low-income housing on a non-discriminatory basis was inadequate, the two agencies would develop "an ...


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