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Winfield v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 29, 2018

CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant.



         In this longstanding case, filed on July 7, 2015, Plaintiffs challenge a New York City policy regarding affordable housing lotteries. The City's policy, referred to herein as the “Community Preference Policy, ” allocates 50% of units in affordable housing lotteries to individuals who already reside in the Community District where the new affordable housing units are located. Plaintiffs allege that the Community Preference Policy violates the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3604 et seq., and the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”), NYC Admin. Code § 8-107, et seq., because it perpetuates racial segregation and disparately impacts racial minorities. They also claim that the City's decision to establish, expand, and maintain the policy constitutes intentional discrimination.

         After phasing discovery and resolving numerous discovery disputes, this Court set July 31, 2018 for the close of fact discovery and August 31, 2018 for service of expert reports. Expert discovery will be completed in January 2019, after which the parties will file dispositive motions and/or proceed to trial.

         Plaintiffs have moved for supplementation of certain data that they seek to use in expert analyses. (Doc. No. 279.) Defendant objects to the supplementation on the ground that the additional discovery is not proportional to the needs of the case, unduly burdensome, and will likely require another extension of the discovery schedule. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED.


         The facts pertaining to the underlying action have been set forth in the Court's prior decisions. See Winfield v. City of New York, No. 15-cv-5236 (LTS) (DCF), 2016 WL 6208564, at *1-3 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 24, 2016); Winfield v. City of New York, No. 15-cv-5236 (LTS) (KHP), 2017 WL 5664852, at *1-6 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2017); see also Winfield v. City of New York, No. 15-cv-5236 (LTS) (KHP), 2017 WL 2880556, at *1-2 (S.D.N.Y. July 5, 2017), objections overruled by 2017 WL 5054727, at *1-2 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2017). Only the facts relevant to this motion are set forth below.

         I. Affordable Housing In New York City

         New York City has a housing emergency - there is an overall shortage of housing, particularly for low- and moderate-income residents. (See Doc. No. 297 (“Murphy Decl.”) ¶ 3.) In light of this crisis, the City has pursued an ambitious housing program to build and preserve 300, 000 affordable housing units by 2026. (Id.)

         The City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (“HDC”) work together to support the City's affordable housing goals and programs. HPD is the largest municipal housing preservation and development agency in the nation. (Id. ¶ 2.) “The agency's mission is to promote the construction and preservation of affordable, high quality housing for low- and moderate-income families in thriving and diverse neighborhoods in every borough by enforcing housing quality standards, financing affordable housing development and preservation, and ensuring sound management of the City's affordable housing stock.” (Id.) “HPD works together with a variety of public and private partners to achieve the City's affordable housing goals of supporting New Yorkers with a range of incomes, from the very lowest to those in the middle class. HPD accomplishes these goals through a combination of loan programs, tax incentives, disposition of City-owned land, tax credits, and other development incentives.” Development Process, NYC Housing Preservation & Development, (last visited March 27, 2018). HDC is a housing finance agency that helps to fund affordable housing projects. HDC: A Brief History, NYC HDC, (last visited March 27, 2018). It also oversees distribution of affordable units it finances, all awarded through a lottery.

         Since 2012, New Yorkers looking for affordable housing apply through a website called “NYC Housing Connect.” Once the application period for a particular affordable housing project closes, Housing Connect randomly generates a log number for each applicant for purposes of the lottery administration. Once a log is generated, applicants are considered and interviewed by the developer (or its agent) beginning with the lowest log numbers, and any preference that may be applicable, including the Community Preference Policy. HPD or HDC, as applicable based on the project, ultimately reviews and confirms the eligibility of applicants which the developer has preliminarily determined are eligible to be offered a unit. NYC Housing Connect, (last visited March 27, 2018).

         The Community Preference Policy provides eligible applicants residing in the Community District in which a qualifying affordable housing project is located with priority for up to 50% of the affordable units in the project after set-asides for specified groups, including individuals with disabilities. Only a portion of City-assisted affordable units are subject to the Community Preference Policy.

         II. Disparate Impact Allegations And Data Produced

         Plaintiffs allege that the City's Community Preference Policy disparately impacts African-Americans and Latinos (Doc. No. 16 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 184-86), by “bar[ring] City residents living outside of the community district from competing on an equal basis for all available units.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs further assert that, as a result of the Community Preference Policy, “access to [neighborhoods of opportunity[1] is effectively prioritized for white residents who already live there and limited for African-American and Latino New Yorkers who do not.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs additionally claim that the Community Preference Policy perpetuates existing racial segregation in majority-minority community districts. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 48.)

         To prove their disparate impact claim, Plaintiffs must show: “(1) the occurrence of certain outwardly neutral practices, and (2) a significantly adverse or disproportionate impact on persons of a particular type produced by the defendant's facially neutral acts or practices.'” Mhany Mgmt., Inc. v. County of Nassau, 819 F.3d 581, 617 (2d Cir. 2016) (quoting Reg'l Econ. Cmty. Action Program, Inc. v. City of Middletown, 294 F.3d 35, 52-53 (2d Cir. 2002)). Plaintiffs must present a statistical analysis to meet the second prong of their prima facie case. Further, their expert analysis must link the policy at issue - in this case, the Community Preference Policy - to the disparity shown. “A robust causality requirement ensures that ‘[r]acial imbalance . . . does not, without more, establish a prima facie case of disparate impact' and thus protects defendants from ...

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