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HUNTINGTON BRANCH NAACP v. TOWN OF HUNTINGTON

January 18, 1981

HUNTINGTON BRANCH NAACP, Housing Help, Inc., Mabel Harris, Ella Owens, Carrie Howard, Thelma Latta, Perrepper Crutchfield, Kenneth L. Cofield, Plaintiffs,
v.
The TOWN OF HUNTINGTON, NEW YORK, United States Department of Housing & Urban Development, Samuel Pierce, Kenneth C. Butterfield, Claire Kroft, Kenneth Deegan, Edward Thompson, Joseph Clemente, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COSTANTINO

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

This is a class action *fn1" brought on behalf of black, Hispanic and lower income persons residing in the Town of Huntington and its surrounding areas who allegedly would qualify for residency in housing areas developed with the support of funding obtained pursuant to the Housing & Community Development Act of 1974. 42 U.S.C. § 5301 et seq. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim to have been injured by discriminatory housing and zoning practices within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment and, more importantly, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., which was designed to provide fair housing throughout the nation. In addition, plaintiffs have filed other causes of action based on 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1983, and the New York State Town Law.

 The named plaintiffs are as follows: Huntington Branch, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP"), whose purpose in society is to eliminate racial discrimination in housing, employment, education and other areas; Mabel Harris, the president of the NAACP in Huntington; Housing Help, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation which assists low income and minority people in securing housing in Huntington and its vicinity and also promotes low and moderate income housing in the Town of Huntington and its vicinity; and lastly, Ella Owens, Carrie Howard, Thelma Latta, Perrepper Crutchfield, and Kenneth L. Cofield, members of a minority and/or low income group who wish to obtain affordable housing in the Town of Huntington, but to date have been unable to do so because of its unavailability.

 The Town of Huntington defendants are as follows: the Town of Huntington, a municipal corporation organized pursuant to the Town Law of the State of New York; Kenneth Butterfield, Supervisor of the Town of Huntington; and Claire Kroft, Kenneth Deegan, Edward Thompson and Joseph Clemente, members of the Huntington Town Board. These defendants will be referred to in this opinion as merely the "Town of Huntington." The complaint was also filed against two federal defendants: the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), and Samuel Pierce, the Secretary of HUD. These two defendants will be referred to jointly as "HUD."

 These proceedings are now before the court on a motion to dismiss by both HUD and the Town of Huntington. *fn2" While the defendants set forth numerous grounds for dismissal, both HUD and the Town of Huntington maintain that the case must be dismissed for lack of standing. The court agrees, and for reasons set forth below, the action is dismissed. Before setting forth the court's conclusions of law, the court finds it necessary to provide a background to these transactions and the pertinent facts to date.

 I. BACKGROUND

 A. Housing Assistance Plans

 To receive federal funds available through Community Development Block Grant ("CDBG") programs, *fn3" a town must submit to HUD a Housing Assistance Plan ("HAP") prepared in accordance with the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. *fn4" The HAP must specify the housing needs of the municipality and the municipality's realistic goals to accommodate community housing assistance needs, including goals for the new construction of HUD assisted rental units. See 42 U.S.C. § 5304. If the goals for HUD assistance are unrealistic in light of present and expected availability of funds, HUD cannot approve the HAP submitted. 42 U.S.C. § 5304(a)(4)(B); 24 CFR § 570.306(b)(3)(i). Each HAP generally covers a three-year period.

 The most recent Town of Huntington HAP provides for years 1979-1982, which encompasses fiscal years 1980, 1981, and 1982 and becomes ineffective on October 1, 1982. With reference to the goals for the new construction of HUD assisted rental units, the recently revised HAP currently in effect for the Town of Huntington has "zero" goals for these projects. Since there are no funds presently available for such construction, HUD maintains that it approved Huntington's HAP as the goals provided therein are realistic under the circumstances. However, HUD has notified Huntington that if sufficient funds become available, then HUD will require Huntington to amend its 1979-1982 HAP to include a goal for the construction of 100 newly created units of new or substantially rehabilitated rental housing.

 B. Procedural Requirements for Assistance and Proposed Huntington Projects

 Two procedures are available to receive funding from HUD and both have been the source of controversy in this case. First, applications for new construction funds under Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1437f, can be made pursuant to a Notice of Funding Availability ("NOFA"). When funds become available, HUD publishes a NOFA to which developers respond with preliminary proposals for housing projects in a given sub-area. The proposals in the sub-area-in this case Suffolk County-are then ranked against each other to determine priority for the available funds. This determination is based upon various factors including the proposed rents, design of the proposal, comments of the local municipality, feasibility of the project, and feasibility of the proposed location. HUD's approval of such an application is not a commitment for funds because all commitments are conditioned upon the submission of a final, more detailed proposal and HUD's approval thereof.

 A NOFA was published by the HUD New York Area office for all of Suffolk County on June 19, 1980, and on August 28, 1980, plaintiff Housing Help, a Huntington based nonprofit organization, submitted to HUD a preliminary proposal called "Matinecock Court" in response to the June 1980 NOFA. The Matinecock Court proposal was for 162 units at a cost estimate of $ 1,820,000.00. *fn5" After being ranked against sixteen other proposals submitted in response to the June 1980 NOFA, this project and "Huntington Park", the only other project submitted from Huntington, were tied with four other proposals for sixth place. *fn6"

 Although it did rank the Matinecock Court proposal, HUD could not approve the project because the Town of Huntington objected to the Matinecock Court proposal. An application for housing assistance submitted to HUD from a private developer, such as Housing Help, Inc., rather than a municipality, must be forwarded for "comment" to the municipality in which the proposed project is to be built. If the town objects to the application on the grounds that it is inconsistent with its HAP, and HUD agrees that an inconsistency exists, then HUD cannot approve the application. 42 U.S.C. § 1439. Furthermore, if the number of proposed units in the application exceeds the town's HAP goal by more than 20%, then HUD cannot approve the application.

 Thus, the Matinecock Court proposal was objected to by Huntington on two grounds. First, the project was inconsistent with Huntington's zoning ordinances since the area in which Housing Help proposed to build Matinecock Court did not provide for multi-family housing. *fn7" Second, the project was inconsistent with the 1979-1982 Huntington HAP which set forth "zero" goals for Section 8 assisted rental unit facilities. As ...


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