The opinion of the court was delivered by: Trager, District Judge:
CORRECTED MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Joan Daily brings this action against the New York
City Housing Authority ("NYCHA") and three NYCHA employees,
claiming that they violated her rights under the First and
Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, Article
I, Section 11 of the New York Constitution, and Section 40 of
the New York Civil Rights Law by denying her application to use
the community center at Woodside Houses, the public housing
development at which Daily lives, to conduct "Bible studies"
designed to comfort residents following the events of September
11, 2001. The complaint, filed on February 28, 2002, sought a
preliminary injunction restraining the defendants from enforcing
the NYCHA policy under which defendants denied Daily's
application. An evidentiary hearing and oral argument was held
on June 12, 2002.
Plaintiff Daily is a resident of one of the approximately
1,500 apartments in the Woodside Houses, a public housing
development located in Queens, New York that is owned and
operated by NYCHA. Daily is the founder and pastor of the "I
Must Be About My Father's Business Ministries, Inc." See Daily
Letter of Oct. 13, 2001. The Woodside Community Center ("WCC")
is a community center within the Woodside Houses that is also
owned and operated by the NYCHA. See Declaration of Anthony
Richburg ("Richburg Decl.") ¶¶ 1, 6. Following the events of
September 11, 2001, Daily wrote to defendant Louis Ortiz,
Director of the WCC, requesting permission to use the WCC "to
conduct Bible studies" to "help, comfort, [and] encourage" local
residents and "to let them know that all is not lost." Daily
Letter of Oct. 13, 2001. "The purpose of this Bible Study was to
study the Scriptures and to aid residents in dealing with their
distress over the senseless terrorist killings of September 11."
Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of the Motion for Preliminary
Injunction ("Pl.Mem.") at 2. Ortiz gave plaintiff's letter to
his superior, defendant Reinaldo Pagan, an NYCHA Borough
Administrator. See Declaration of Louis Ortiz ("Ortiz Decl.")
¶ 15. Citing NYCHA regulations that "prohibit the use of any
NYCHA property for religious or political activities," Pagan
denied Daily's request. See Pagan Letter of Oct. 15, 2001.
Daily appealed this denial to defendant Anthony Richburg,
Director of NYCHA's Queens Community Operations Office,*fn1
and Richburg upheld Pagan's decision. Pl. Mem. at 1. To date,
Daily has been unable to use the WCC for her proposed sessions.
NYCHA operates approximately 118 community centers throughout
New York City. Richburg Decl. ¶ 6. According to NYCHA guidelines
issued to community center directors, the goal of these
community centers "is to offer public housing residents,
specifically children and youth, a variety of educational,
recreational, social, and cultural activities and programs."
Richburg Decl. Ex. A at 1.
The WCC is used for a variety of activities. These activities
fall into two categories: regularly scheduled educational and
after-school uses, and temporary uses. The WCC has three primary
regularly scheduled uses. First, General Equivalency Diploma
classes are taught during the day, as is a ceramics class geared
toward senior citizens. See Ortiz Decl. ¶ 9 & Ex. A (WCC
schedule for Dec. 2001-Mar. 2002). Transcript of June 12, 2002
Hearing ("Tr.") at 41. Second, an after-school program for
six-to-twelve year olds operates during the school year from
2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. See id. ¶ 5. In accordance with NYCHA
guidelines and standards, this program includes homework
assistance, reading skills development, snacks and dinner, and
activities such as arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor games,
computers, movies, and story telling. See id. & Ex. A. During
the summer, this program is replaced by a similar day-camp
program. See id. ¶ 5.
Third, a program for teenagers operates between 7:00 p.m. and
9:45 p.m. See Ortiz Decl. ¶ 6. Classes in dance, computers,
sewing, and ceramics are offered, as are activities such as arts
and crafts, weight lifting, Girl Scouts, and study hall. See
id. & Ex. A. Adults may join in these classes. See id. ¶ 9;
Richburg Decl. ¶ 8.
As part of the after-school program, there are also six weeks
of workshops for children between nine and eighteen on topics
such as leadership and communication skills, conflict
resolution, decision-making, drug abuse prevention, cultural
diversity, and responsibility. See Ortiz Decl. ¶ 8 & Ex. B.
NYCHA, in collaboration with the Office of the Mayor and the New
York City Police Department, sponsors these workshops, called
the ASPIRE program.*fn2 See id. This program is limited to
teenagers. Tr. at 10.
Beside these uses, the WCC may be used temporarily by several
groups. The regulation to which Pagan referred in his letter to
Daily, NYCHA Standard Procedure 088:80:1 ("Standard Procedure"),
governs the procedure for the temporary use of NYCHA-managed
community centers. Pl. Mem. Ex. A. Section III.A. of the
Standard Procedure lists three approved temporary uses of
NYCHA-managed community centers. First, "[a] recognized Tenant
Association (including its committees and affiliates) may have
use of the community center rent free, as space is available.
This includes use of the community center for meetings,
fund-raising affairs, and other events." Id. Neither party
discusses what a recognized tenant association is, but
apparently it is the "duly elected resident council" that a
housing authority must recognize as "the sole representative of
the residents it purports to represent" under federal
regulations governing the Department of Housing and Urban
Development. See 24 C.F.R. § 964.18(a)(1). The regulations
also state that, if requested, a housing authority should
provide a resident council office space and meeting facilities
free of charge. See 24 C.F.R. § 964.18(a)(7).
It is not entirely clear whether the WCC has been used in the
past by the tenant association. According to Richburg, NYCHA
Deputy General Counsel Henry Schoenfeld, and NYCHA Assistant
General Counsel Gary Nester, the community centers generally are
used for monthly tenant association meetings to discuss housing,
maintenance, and related issues. Tr. at 2-3, 41. Richburg and
Nester acknowledged that the regulations permit the tenant
association to use a community center to raise funds for its
activities, but did not indicate whether any such events had
been held at the WCC. Tr. at 3, 4-5. Richburg also acknowledged
that "occasionally [a tenant association] might have someone
come in and speak to the residents about housing issues or
issues that are for the community." Tr. at 4. The broad
expression — "issues that are for the community" — went
Second, section III.A. of the NYCHA Standard Procedure states
that "[o]ther tenant groups may use common spaces within the
community centers free of charge for RPL 230 meetings." Pl. Mem.
Ex. A. An "RPL 230" meeting is a meeting of a group organized
under New York Real Property Law § 230. Under § 230(1),
landlords may not "interfere with right of a tenant to form,
join, or participate in the lawful activities of any group,
committee, or other organization formed to protect the right of
tenants." N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 230(1) (McKinney's 2001). In
addition, "[t]enants' groups, committees or other tenants'
organizations" have the right "to meet without being required to
pay a fee in any location on the premises including a community
or social room where use normally subject to a fee which is
devoted to the common use of all tenants
in a peaceful manner, at reasonable hours and without
obstructing access to the premises or the facilities." N.Y. Real
Prop. Law § 230(2) (McKinney's 2001).
Richburg stated that he did not know of any other tenant
groups using the WCC. Tr. at 7. In addition, as the regulations
discuss using the WCC for "RPL 230 meetings," it seems that only
a tenant organization "formed to protect the rights of tenants"
could use it under this regulation.
Finally, section III.A. allows community centers to be "rented
for family events and celebrations such as weddings, birthdays,
graduations, and anniversaries in accordance with this
procedure." Pl. Mem. Ex. A. According to the schedules, the WCC
was rented for three Saturdays in March, 2002, but no further
detail was provided about the events that took place. See
Ortiz Decl. Ex. A.
Section III.B. lists several activities that are prohibited at
all NYCHA-managed community centers:
• Sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages.
• Any other form of illegal activity.
• Any sale of tickets for events, including
performances, raffles or dances, unless prior
Authority approval has been granted.
• Religious services, unless the religious services
are directly connected to the principal reason for a
family-oriented event, such as weddings.