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Evans v. Lynn

decided: June 2, 1975.


Appeal from order of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Milton Pollack, Judge, dismissing for lack of standing appellants' complaint alleging violation of the 1964 and 1968 Civil Rights Acts, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d, 3601. Held, appellants are within the zone of interests protected by the Acts and are sufficiently injured in fact to have standing.

Before: Moore, Oakes and Gurfein, Circuit Judges.

Author: Oakes

OAKES, Circuit Judge :

This appeal involves a legal challenge against policies of federal agencies said to flout the requirements of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, and Title VIII (Fair Housing) of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601. Title VI requires federal agencies affirmatively to effectuate its anti-discrimination policy in programs receiving federal financial assistance, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d, 2000d-1.*fn1 Title VIII requires similar effectuation of its fair housing policies, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, 3608(c), (d)(5).*fn2 The federal agencies are the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation of the Department of the Interior (BOR), whose respective grants to a municipal sewer district within the Town of New Castle, Westchester County, New York, for construction of a sanitary sewer, and to the Town itself for acquisition of "Turner Swamp" for recreational purposes*fn3 are challenged here as being made to a town that allegedly maintains a racially and economically discriminatory housing and community development program. Suit has also been brought against the regional planning agency, Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (Tri-State), which is the designated clearing-house which reviews and coordinates applications for federal grants-in-aid in certain counties of New York and New Jersey and certain counties of New York and New Jersey and certain planning regions of Connecticut, 42 U.S.C. § 3334(a)(1), and which declined to review the grants in question on the grounds that they lacked regional significance.

Appellants assert that they are minority residents of Westchester County who reside in racially concentrated areas of the county and are constrained to do so because the failure of the federal agencies to perform their affirmative duties permits the maintenance of a growing pattern of racial residential segregation both in New Castle and elsewhere in the county. Thus, the case is another in the series of cases in this court and others*fn4 raising one phase or another in the complex of legal, social, economic and moral problems engendered both by the emergence of the suburbs as increasingly important units of the metropolitan area, significant to the achievement of national goals, and by the realization that housing "does not mean shelter alone -- it means a collection of services and opportunities based on locations."*fn5 The court below granted the Town of New Castle leave to intervene but denied appellants standing to sue on the basis that they assert no "injury in fact" since enjoining the grants in question would not alleviate their injury (in the form of "ghetto living conditions"); Judge Pollack added that their status as "potential residents" of New Castle did not change this result. (This ruling applied to the federal defendants and to Tri-State.) We disagree, expressing, however, no opinion on the question whether appellants have stated a claim for relief.

On the question of standing as to the federal agencies there are three facts which have to be assumed, as they were below, in the present posture of the case. First, appellants are low-income minority residents of Westchester County who live in "ghetto" conditions, that is, racially- concentrated low-income neighborhoods.*fn6 Second, a matter entirely overlooked in Judge Moore's dissent, the Town of New Castle, to or for whose benefit the challenged grants were made, is, in the words of the district court, "predominantly white [98.7 per cent] and a well-to-do enclave," 90 per cent of which is zoned for single-family, residential development on parcels of more than one acre, with a median value of single-family, residential development on parcels of more than one acre, with a median value of single-family homes in 1970 in excess of $50,000; the Town has, not coincidentally, thwarted the New York State Urban Development Corporation's attempt to construct within its borders a small 100-unit low cost housing facility and thus in the words of the court below "continues to be resistant to attempts to alter its present housing character."*fn7 Third, the challenged federal agencies, in approving the grants in question, did very little by way of evaluating the Town's development policies or otherwise,*fn8 to perform any allegedly affirmative duties required of them by Title VI and Title VIII respectively,*fn9 the approval of each grant in question was based solely on its internal merits (as to which there is no dispute, that is, no claim that either the sewer system or recreation area will be administered discriminatorily).

Assuming these underlying facts, we first face the question whether appellants are arguably within the zone of interests protected by the statutes, that is, whether there is a viable claim that affirmative duties are imposed upon these federal agencies by Titles VI and VIII which would require them to take some action, not taken here, on behalf of county residents such as withholding otherwise proper grants. Absent such an arguable claim of affirmative duties owed to appellants, they are not within any zone of statutory protection. Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 25 L. Ed. 2d 184, 90 S. Ct. 827 (1970). Put another way, we must consider whether either of these agencies is alleged to have "consciously and expressly adopted a general policy [of nonenforcement] which [is] in effect an abdication of its statutory duty." Adams v. Richardson, 480 F.2d 1159, 1162 (D.C. Cir. 1973) (en banc, per curiam) (ordering HEW to take affirmative action to end segregation in ten states' public educational institutions receiving federal funds, at suit of black "students, citizens and taxpayers"). We think such a viable claim is clearly made out under the express language of the Acts, nn. 1 and 2 supra, the legislative history and the case law.

Title VI requires effectuation of § 2000d by agencies "empowered to extend Federal financial assistance to any program or activity, by way of grant. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-1. Title VIII requires administration of housing and urban development programs and activities in all agencies "affirmatively to further the purposes" of the Act, as expressed in 42 U.S.C. § 3601, n.2 supra.*fn10 It may be that, as the federal appellees suggest, because Title VI is somewhat limited in remedy, it is not so much involved, although this is a question ultimately on the merits; Title VI contains language in its so-called "pinpoint provision" that limits the power of the agency to terminate funding "to the particular program, or part thereof, in which such [discrimination] has been so found." 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-1, n.1 supra. See Gautreaux v. Romney, 457 F.2d 124 (7th Cir. 1972) (HUD could release Model Cities funds to city independent of city housing authority's discriminatory site selection and tenant assignment procedures). See 86 Harv. L. Rev. 427 (1972).

But the same limitation or "pinpoint provision" does not apply to Title VIII. The legislative history of Title VIII is indicative of its scope. In introducing the legislation Senator Mondale referred to the

sordid story of which all Americans should be ashamed developed by this country in the immediate post World War II era, during which the FHA, the VA, and other Federal agencies encouraged, assisted, and made easy the flight of white people from the central cities of white America, leaving behind only the Negroes and others unable to take advantage of these liberalized extensions of credit and credit guarantees.

Traditionally the American Government has been more than neutral on this issue. The record of the U.S. Government in that period is one, at best, of covert collaborator in policies which established the present outrageous and heartbreaking racial living patterns which lie at the core of the tragedy of the American city and the alienation of good people from good people because of the utter irrelevancy of color.

114 Cong. Rec. 2278 (1968).

So too Representative Celler said: "The purpose or 'end' of the Federal Fair Housing Act is to remove the walls of discrimination which enclose minority groups in ghettos. . . ." 114 Cong. Rec. 9563 (1968).

The cases relating to duties created by Titles VI and VIII include Shannon v. HUD, 436 F.2d 809 (3d Cir. 1970); Brookhaven Housing Coalition v. Kunzig, 341 F. Supp. 1026 (E.D.N.Y. 1972); Garrett v. City of Hamtramck, 335 F. Supp. 16 (E.D. Mich. 1971). See also Otero v. New York City Housing Authority, 484 F.2d 1122 (2d Cir. 1973). The Third Circuit held in Shannon, supra, that HUD could not approve a change in an urban renewal plan (from "owner occupied" to "rent supplement" dwellings) without considering under the affirmative duty requirements of Titles VI and VIII whether "the need for physical rehabilitation or additional minority housing at the site in question clearly outweighs the disadvantage of increasing or perpetuating racial discrimination." 436 F.2d at 822. So holding the court said that "Increase or maintenance of racial concentration is prima facie likely to lead to urban blight and is thus prima facie at variance with the national housing policy." 436 F.2d at 821. Clearly the federal government, to the extent it is in the business of granting housing and development funds to communities, is in a central position to exert influence upon, or against, concentration of minority groups in limited areas. As put in dictum by Mr. Justice Stewart in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 417, 20 L. Ed. 2d 1189, 88 S. Ct. 2186 (1968), Title VIII at least is "a detailed housing law, applicable to a broad range of discriminatory practices and enforceable by a complete arsenal of federal authority." Here appellants claim no influence was exerted; the housing law remained unenforced.

We must not only be aware of, we must be guided by the teaching of Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 409 U.S. 205, 211, 34 L. Ed. 2d 415, 93 S. Ct. 364 (1972), a case involving the question whether complaining tenants were within the class of persons expressly entitled to use under § 810(a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), that in connection with fair housing litigation "the main generating force must be private suits . . ." and that "the reach of the proposed law was to replace the ghettos 'by truly integrated and balanced living patterns' [quoting Senator Mondale]." So, too, the Court has advised us that "Congress may enact statutes creating legal rights, the invasion of which creates standing, even though no injury would exist without the statute." Linda R. S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 617 n.3, 35 L. Ed. 2d 536, 93 S. Ct. 1146 (1973), citing Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 409 U.S. at 212 (White, J., concurring). The limitation on this is that there must be an "indication that invasion of the statutory right had occurred or is likely to occur." O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 494 n.2, 38 L. Ed. 2d 674, 94 S. Ct. 669 (1974). Here the "statutory right" is to have programs and activities "relating to housing and urban development" administered in furtherance of the fair housing policy. That right is invaded by grants for sewer facilities or acquisition of recreation areas in urban communities which are not so administered.

We are satisfied, then, that the first of the two prongs of the test of standing is met; appellants are arguably within the zone of interests protected by Titles VI and VIII. The inaction on the part of the federal agencies here may have created a breach of their affirmative duties under these Acts and these Acts were designed to protect people such as these appellants who continue to live in ghettoized communities in the New York City metropolitan area. Title VI protects every person in the United States from discrimination in applicable projects, and Title VIII seeks to ensure fair housing throughout the United States. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d, 3608, nn. 1 and 2 supra.

Have, however, the appellants demonstrated a nexus between their injury (it is postulated in the opinion of the district court that "ghetto living conditions are a very real and very serious 'injury'") and the claim of omission of federal civil rights enforcement with respect to the New Castle community development grants? That is, is there asserted an "injury in fact" to these appellants? If we were to look, as the appellees and intervenor would have us look, solely toward New Castle's housing and land-use policies, we would have to answer in the negative, if for no other reason than that a recent decision of this court, Warth v. Seldin, 495 F.2d 1187 (2d Cir.), cert. granted, 43 U.S.L.W. 3208 (U.S. Oct. 15, 1974), would require us to do so.*fn11 In this respect, appellants have no connection whatsoever with New Castle; there is no showing that they would even try to live in New Castle.

But the gist of appellants' complaint is the failure of HUD and BOR to implement Title VIII, the fair housing law, an act which was intended to change the functions of federal grant programs the history of which, as Senator Mondale's quoted remarks suggest, reinforced existing, if not created new, patterns of racial segregation.*fn12 In this instance appellants allege injury from appellees' allocation of funds to New Castle in violation of Titles VI and VIII which contributes to the perpetuation of appellants' living patterns in the New York City metropolitan area.

Here, then, are agencies with an affirmative duty to encourage fair housing. Allocation of grants without assessing their impact on integration not only may maintain the status quo of living patterns, resulting in injury to those who must continue to live in ghettos, but may also increase the disparity between living styles by supporting "white enclaves" while diverting funds which otherwise would have been used to alleviate ghettoization. In United States v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 93 S. Ct. 2405, 37 L. Ed. 2d 254 (1973), plaintiffs alleged that the Interstate Commerce Commission's failure to suspend increased freight rates would discourage use of recycled products to the detriment of the environment which they enjoyed. Such omission, they claimed, violated the ICC's duties under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C). The Court found those plaintiffs aggrieved within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 702. Id. at 685. The Court also held that

To deny standing to persons who are in fact injured simply because many others are also injured, would mean that the most injurious and widespread Government actions could be questioned by nobody. We cannot accept that conclusion.

Id. at 688. As in SCRAP we have plaintiffs injured in fact by administrative inaction. See Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe, 401 U.S. 402, 28 L. Ed. 2d 136, 91 S. Ct. 814 (1971); Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. FPC, 354 F.2d 608 (2d Cir. 1965), cert. denied, 384 U.S. 941, 16 L. Ed. 2d 540, 86 S. Ct. 1462 (1966). Cf. Scanwell Laboratories, Inc. v. Shaffer, 424 F.2d 859 (D.C. Cir. 1970). This is sufficient to give plaintiffs standing to challenge administrative violations of statutory duties. This case is distinguishable from the recent Supreme Court cases so heavily relied upon in Judge Moore's dissent,*fn13 in which standing was denied to plaintiffs bringing constitutional challenges to statutes since they contain an underlying, if not articulated, minor premise that Congress cannot enact a statute conferring standing to bring a constitutional challenge. See Monaghan, Constitutional Adjudication: The Who and When, 82 Yale L.J. 1363, 1380-83 (1973). But where Congress has created a duty, Congress can declare that anyone aggrieved can enforce the corrolary right. Again, standing is conceptually broader where a statutory duty has been violated than when prosecutorial or judicial discretion is challenged, since there is no statute conferring review of such actions.*fn14

So that our decision may be very clearly understood, we hold only that appellants have standing as to the federal agencies to challenge the particular grants in question. We do not do so on the basis that they have a sufficient connection with the community to or for the benefit of which the grants are made. We do so purely and simply because one important method of enforcement of the congressional policy set forth in Title VIII is by the agencies' administration of grants related either to housing or urban development. The grants here involved, made to an urban community, or one that is satellite to a metropolitan area of which appellants are residents, are so related. United States v. SCRAP, supra; Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., supra; Adams v. Richardson, supra.

My brethren are in accord that the complaint against Tri-State must be dismissed. In stating my dissenting view, I note that while Tri-State is an interstate body, both corporate and politic, serving as a common agency of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, created by compact,*fn15 it has been designated as the areawide clearing-house for review of applications for federal aid to assure conformance with regional comprehensive plans, a designation which occurs under Circular A-95, promulgated by the Office of Management and Budget, see 38 Fed. Reg. 228 (1973), to implement the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Program Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3334, and the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4231. The latter commands consideration of impact of the proposed program upon housing and human resources development. 42 U.S.C. § 4231(c). The A-95 Circular specifically calls for comment on the "civil rights aspect of the project," P 3(d), and "the extent to which the project contributes to more balanced patterns of settlement and delivery of services to all sectors of the area population, including minority groups." P 5(d).

It is true that all that Tri-State allegedly did here was to say that the proposed grants had no "regional significance." But it seems to me that appellants are precisely those minority persons who are disadvantaged by unbalanced "patterns of settlement and delivery of services."

Judgment reversed and remanded as to James T. Lynn, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation of the Department of the Interior; judgment affirmed as to appellee Tri-State Regional Planning Commission.


Judgment reversed, cause remanded.

MOORE, Circuit Judge, dissenting:

Essentially there is presented in this litigation the question of the extent to which, at the behest of the plaintiffs, the judicial branch of our constitutional government can override, or veto the exercise of, discretionary judgments made by the executive and legislative branches in connection with grants of federal funds made pursuant to the Community Facilities and Advance Land Acquisition Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3102 (1972) and the Outdoor Recreation Programs Act, 16 U.S.C. § 460 1 (1963). Obviously an abstract answer cannot be given, as it were, in a vacuum. Hence the facts essential to a resolution of this controversy must be analyzed with great particularity. In short, who are the plaintiffs, what relief do they seek, what is the ...

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