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SALUTE v. STRATFORD GREENS

March 21, 1996

RICHARD SALUTE, MARIE KRAVETTE and LONG ISLAND HOUSING SERVICES, Plaintiffs, against STRATFORD GREENS, a co-partnership, GERALD MONTER, ELLIOT MONTER and HOLIDAY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GLEESON

 JOHN GLEESON, United States District Judge:

 Richard Salute, Marie Kravette and Long Island Housing Services have brought this purported class action against Stratford Greens, Gerald Monter, Elliot Monter and Holiday Management Associates. Plaintiffs allege that the defendants' refusal to rent Salute and Kravette apartments in the Stratford Greens apartment complex violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., and the requirements of the "Section 8" housing program established by United States Housing Act of 1937, as amended by The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. § 1437f (1994)). Plaintiffs have moved for partial summary judgment, and defendants have cross-moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiffs' motion is denied and the defendants' motion is granted.

 FACTS

 The material facts in this case are undisputed. Richard Salute and Marie Kravette are "handicapped" persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Salute suffers from multiple medical problems, including chronic asthma, dextroscoliosis of the back, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis and depression. Kravette suffers from degenerative rheumatoid arthritis and depression. Both receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

 Salute and Kravette have both been found eligible for low income housing assistance under the Section 8 program. This program, which is administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), involves, inter alia, the issuance of certificates to eligible persons. If a Section 8 certificate holder finds an apartment that meets the applicable rent guidelines, and the landlord agrees to participate in the Section 8 program, the tenant pays no more than 30% of her gross income in rent. The government subsidizes the remainder pursuant to a contract it executes with the private landlord. Participation by landlords is voluntary; they may lawfully refuse to accept applications from Section 8 tenants.

 Certificate holders, who sometimes wait years before receiving the certificate, have a limited amount of time to locate and lease a qualifying apartment. If they fail to do so within the prescribed period, the certificate reverts to the local housing agency through which the program is administered.

 Richard Salute received a Section 8 certificate in 1993 after a five-year wait. He found an apartment in Stratford Greens that met his needs, but Stratford Greens refused to rent it to him because he was a Section 8 participant. Salute's certificate subsequently reverted to the government.

 Marie Kravette was a Section 8 tenant in a two-bedroom apartment in Coram, New York, from 1990-95. In March 1995, when her son moved out, the program regulations required Kravette to find a one-bedroom apartment. She went to Stratford Greens, found an apartment she liked, and filled out an application to rent it. Stratford Greens denied the application because Kravette was a Section 8 participant. Kravette thereupon sought a preliminary injunction requiring Stratford Greens to rent her the apartment.

 Stratford Greens is a 365-unit apartment complex in Suffolk County. It is managed by defendant Holiday Management Associates, of which defendant Gerald Monter is Chief Executive Officer. Monter's practice at Stratford Greens has been to refuse to accept applications from prospective tenants who are receiving Section 8 assistance. The practice is the result of Monter's desire not to "get involved with the federal government and its rules and any accompanying regulations." (Monter Affidavit dated May 15, 1995, P 4.) Accordingly, Stratford Greens has never accepted a tenant who, at the time of application, was a Section 8 participant.

 However, on four occasions over the past 15 years, Monter has agreed to accept Section 8 payments on behalf of tenants at Stratford Greens. On all four occasions, the tenant became a Section 8 certificate holder during the tenancy. The first was Bea Guarria, a single mother of two, who in 1983 suffered significant financial hardship and could not pay her rent without Section 8 assistance. The second was a woman who temporarily needed federal assistance. After a period of Section 8 participation, her financial circumstances changed, and she is currently a non-Section 8 tenant. The third exception was made for a woman whose husband died, and the fourth was made in March 1995 for Roseanne Feinstein, another tenant who became indigent. In all of these instances, Monter had the option of refusing Section 8 participation and commencing eviction proceedings if the tenants failed to pay their rent. Out of compassion, however, the tenants were permitted to stay, and their Section 8 assistance was accepted. Guarria and Feinstein still reside at Stratford Greens and remain Section 8 participants.

 On May 31, 1995, I granted Kravette's application and entered a preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to rent a one-bedroom apartment at the Stratford Greens complex to her. Salute v. Stratford Greens, 888 F. Supp. 17 (E.D.N.Y. 1995). In that decision, I concluded, among other things, that Kravette was likely to prevail on her claim that the "take one, take all" provision of the Section 8 program, 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(t)(1)(A), required Stratford Greens to rent an apartment to Kravette. Id. at 20.

 For the reasons set forth below, I now conclude that neither Kravette nor Salute can prevail on their claims under that section. In addition, I conclude that the undisputed facts require summary judgment for the defendants on plaintiffs' claims under the Fair Housing Act as well.

 DISCUSSION

 A. The Claim Under the United States ...


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