Walker v. HUD
public housing desegregation case involved the Housing Authority of the City of Dallas [DHA], the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD], the City of Dallas, various interveners and related litigation. Some of the reported decisions in Walker
are: Walker v. HUD
, 734 F. Supp. 1231, 1272, 1289 (N.D. Tex. 1989) rev’d in part
, Walker v. City of Mesquite, et al
., 912 F.2d 819 (5th Cir. 1990) (the early stages of the litigation including the entry of the 1987 consent decree and subsequent issues arising out of that decree and the inclusion of the City of Dallas as a party and the City liability opinion); Walker v. City of Mesquite
, 169 F.3d 973 (5th Cir. 1999), cert. denied
, 528 U.S. 1131(2000); Walker v. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
, 326 F.Supp.2d 780, 781 (N.D.Tex.,2004), affirmed
, 402 F.3d 532 (5th Cir. 2005) (the issue of race-conscious public housing site selection as part of a desegregation remedy).
None of the monetary amounts mentioned in this section were damage awards or other forms of compensation to either individual plaintiffs or to class members. This case sought injunctive relief for a class against several defendants and did not seek damages on behalf of that class. When specific monetary amounts are mentioned, then those amounts are the funds provided by the defendants for the specific relief being provided. For example, the amount of money provided by HUD in the Settlement Voucher program mentioned below was for the costs of the mobility services provided by DHA. The amount was neither damages nor compensation for injuries that were awarded to individual plaintiffs or class members. The facts of this case involved decades of deliberate segregation by several governments. The nature of the case and the injuries imposed by the segregation are very different from most fair housing or other housing discrimination cases brought by individual plaintiffs. Introduction
public housing/Section 8 desegregation litigation began 1985 when one plaintiff, Debra Walker, sued one Dallas area suburb, Mesquite. The lawsuit contended that Mesquite’s refusal to give its consent for DHA to administer Section 8 certificates within Mesquite violated the 14th Amendment and the other civil rights law prohibiting racial discrimination in housing. The suit was subsequently amended to bring in DHA, HUD, and the City of Dallas and to provide for a class of Black public housing and Section 8 participants. Betsy Julian was one of the original attorneys on this case. Ms. Julian withdrew from the case in 1992.
Court orders entered in this case have provided the following desegregation resources:
(a) approximately 9,900 new assisted units have been made available to Walker class members.
/Documents/1987 consent decree.doc ;
/Documents/settlement voucher documents.pdf
(b) approximately $22 million was made available for the creation of housing opportunities in predominantly white areas of the Dallas metroplex.
(c) $2 million was provided for the operation of a fair housing organization that focused on the problems of low income minority families.
(d) Hope VI funding for 950 units in the West Dallas project.
(e) $94 million was provided by the City of Dallas for neighborhood equalization and economic development in the public housing project neighborhoods.
(f) $10 million for mobility counseling to be used in connection with the Settlement Voucher program.
/Documents/settlement voucher documents.pdf
The process of obtaining these results involved at least 17 appeals to the Fifth Circuit [15 between 1995 and 2005 - not all resulted in a decision], one petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court [denied], eight written appellate decisions [not all were formally reported opinions], and ten reported district court opinions. A Special Master was appointed, a receiver was appointed, and four neighborhood associations objecting to the placement of public housing in their areas were parties to motions or other pleadings attempting to stop such placements. Defendants or other parties opposing all or part of the relief sought were represented by at least 50 different attorneys. The docket sheet for the case is available from the PACER site for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
The early stage of Walker resulted in the entry of the 1987 consent decree involving DHA and HUD without any liability findings. The suburbs, with the exception of Garland, gave their consent to the operation of DHA’s Section 8 program within their jurisdiction and were dismissed from the case. Once the 1987 consent decree was entered requiring DHA to implement the Section 8 program without regard to the suburbs’ consent, Garland was dismissed from the case. But when the 1987 consent decree became unworkable because of local and federal government opposition, liability findings were subsequently entered. /Documents/Walker v HUD- 4-16-96 Findings and Conclusions Vacation of the 1987 Consent Decree.pdf
The City of Dallas was subsequently found liable for its role in the segregation of DHA’s programs in the Court’s 1989 decision, Walker III, 734 F. Supp. 1289 (N.D. Tex. 1989).
HUD and DHA were subsequently found liable for knowingly and willingly perpetuating and maintaining racial segregation in DHA’s low income housing programs. HUD was found liable not just for its failure to affirmatively further fair housing under the Fair Housing Act but also for purposeful violations of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, and 1983. The district court found that the defendants had the remedial obligation to not only cease any present discrimination but to also eliminate the lingering effects of past segregation to the extent practical.
The Court's findings and conclusions on HUD's liability are attached.
The summary judgment motions and briefs referred to in the Court's findings and conclusions are attached.
/Documents/1-12-93 Plaintiffs MPSJ against DHA and HUD.pdf
/Documents/1-12-93 Plaintiffs Memorandum in Support of their Motion for PSJ.pdf
/Documents/5-11-94 HUD memorandum in response to pltfs motion for PSJ.pdf
/Documents/5-19-94 Plaintiffs Reply to HUD Summary Judgment Response.pdf
The findings on HUD's liability were based in part on HUD's admissions to plaintiffs' requests for admissions. The requests and the responses show a detailed history of the specifics of the social engineering by the federal government and the local governments to maintain overt racial segregation in DHA's programs. See
/Documents/hud responses to pltfs rfa.pdf
/Documents/6-6-94 HUD Supp responses to pltfs requests for admissions.pdf
/Documents/6-24-94 HUD Supp responses to pltfs requests for admissions.pdf
The Court’s findings of the specific vestiges of racial segregation in DHA’s programs
The primary basis for the Court’s findings of liability for all three defendants included the massed volume of historical and current documents showing DHA’s, HUD’s, and the City’s historical and current support for overt racial segregation in DHA’s programs.
The district court’s liability findings were also based on specific evidence that the effects of the segregation continued to exist.
The remaining vestiges were the basis for the 1995,1996, and 1997 remedial orders against DHA and HUD. Those vestiges were:
Vestige A: 2,876 (92%) of the 3,116 black households in DHA’s non-elderly public housing projects reside in predominantly black or minority concentrated projects in predominantly black or minority concentrated areas where the poverty rate exceeds 40%. 6,133 of the 6,411 units in DHA’s non-elderly public housing projects are in these predominantly black or minority concentrated areas where the poverty rate exceeds 40%.
Vestige B:The units, projects, and neighborhoods for the African-American occupants of and applicants for DHA’s low rent public housing projects are substantially inferior to the conditions in which low income whites receive HUD assistance.
Vestige C: At least 2,850 [59.2%] of the black households on DHA’s Section 8 certificate and voucher program live in predominantly black or racially concentrated low income areas. Only 21% of those households live in predominantly white areas. 45.6% of white DHA Section 8 households live in predominantly white areas.
Vestige D: The neighborhood conditions for a majority of the black Section 8 participants are substantially inferior to the conditions in which low income whites receive HUD assisted housing and to the conditions in whites paying rent comparable to the total rent paid by and on behalf of the Section 8 households reside.
The unequal conditions affecting the black DHA families were stark and included high levels of crime, exposure to industrial uses and environmental hazards, unsatisfactory municipal and private services and facilities, little or no standard single family housing in the neighborhoods, high concentrations of poverty households and households on public assistance and public schools in which high percentages of students failed minimum competency tests.The record upon which the vestiges were based was a neighborhood by neighborhood comparison for a wide range of specific conditions in and around both the black public housing projects and in the census tracts where black Section 8 families lived. These conditions were compared to the same conditions in and around the projects and tracts where whites received HUD low income housing assistance. The conditions included the quality of city streets and other infrastructure, zoning, adjoining or nearby industrial uses and the hazards posed by those uses, available health care, home mortgage availability, commercial services such as grocery stores, test scores for public schools, disease and mortality rates, and concentrations of poverty and households receiving public assistance. The report containing a summary of these findings is attached.
NIMBY and Walker desegregation
There was little opposition from predominantly white neighborhood associations to the 1987 consent decree when it was approved even though the development of 100 public housing units in white neighborhoods was required. The major opposition to court approval of 1987 consent decree focused on the demolition and replacement of the West Dallas project. The opposition came from some of the residents of the West Dallas project, local low income housing advocates, the local Democratic Congressman in whose district the project was located, a West Dallas furniture rental company, and the West Dallas funeral home. Once the 1987 consent decree began to be implemented, the first wave of neighborhood based opposition to public housing development in non-minority concentrated areas also arose. Similar opposition continued to arise throughout the remainder of the case and was directly responsible for the current Settlement Voucher program as a substitute for the development of 3,200 units of public housing in predominantly white areas.
Neighborhood opposition to the development of the 100 units provided by the 1987 paralyzed DHA. While it had identified an eligible site, DHA would not approve the site for actual use. Walker v. HUD, 734 F. Supp. 1231 (N.D. Tex. 1989) Neighborhood opposition had been able to convince the Mayor and the Dallas Independent School District to oppose the site for the units. The DHA board is appointed by the Mayor. DHA refused to actually select the site and begin development of the units until ordered to do so by the district court./Documents/9_24_90_Supplemental_Consent_Decree__DHA_.pdf
DHA’s next attempt to develop public housing in predominantly white areas came about as a result of the 1995 Remedial Order Affecting DHA. The order required DHA to develop 674 public housing units in predominantly white areas. These units were allocated by HUD in 1990 as part of the replacement units for West Dallas. In 1995, DHA announced a site for 75 units in the Denton County portion of far North Dallas at Frankford and Marsh. The single family home owners quickly mobilized and formed the Public Housing Steering Committee, Inc [PHSC]. PHSC quickly gained the support of the Denton County County Judge and the Dallas City Councilperson representing the district in PHSC’s efforts to block the use of the site. When PHSC filed a state court lawsuit seeking to enjoin the use of the site, the issue was removed to the Walker case. The district court denied PHSC any substantive relief but did incorporate DHA’s offer to let the group offer input into the design and configuration of the site. This order was not appealed. The units were later built.
The next two sites selected by DHA were in Collin County near what is now the intersection of Hillcrest and the George H. W. Bush Tollway. Each site was to have 40 units of public housing units. Two separate neighborhood associations supported by the umbrella association of neighborhood associations in Dallas filed a federal lawsuit challenging the use of a racial classification, white, in the selection of their neighborhoods for a total of 80 units of public housing. The Walker class filed a complaint in Walker against the neighborhood associations and the case was heard in Walker by Judge Buchmeyer. After a trial, the district court denied the homeowners’ claims, found that the use of the racial classification, white, was constitutionally acceptable as a necessary part of the remedy for the defendants’ deliberate segregation. The homeowners appealed to the Fifth Circuit.
In 1999, the Fifth Circuit held that the use of the racial classification, white, to select areas for the development of public housing could be justified but not until all available alternatives had been tried and had failed. The Fifth Circuit found that the district court had not yet given the Section 8 program an adequate opportunity to provide an alternative to the use of the racial classification, white, in site selection order. The court rejected the homeowners’ argument that public housing units could not be used in the remedy and held that a site selection process that used the criteria of non-black and non-poor would meet constitutional standards. The Fifth Circuit held that if Section 8 was to serve as a substitute for the development of public housing units in white areas, then several improvements would have to be made to the program.
The Fifth Circuit specifically noted that for Section 8 to serve as an alternative to race conscious public housing site selection, the defendants would have to pay higher rents in order to afford the units in those areas, recruit more white landlords by using landlord bonuses, and fight racial discrimination encountered by Section 8 families seeking housing in white areas. The district judge’s 1995 and 1996 remedial orders against DHA and HUD had invited just such substitution plan. Plaintiffs’ filed a request for the Supreme Court to hear the case. The Court denied the request and the case came back to the district court. Walker v. City of Mesquite, 169 F.3d 973 (5th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1131(2000).
In the meantime, HUD and plaintiffs were litigating plaintiffs’ allegations that HUD had violated the requirements of the 1996 remedial order. Many of the alleged violations involved HUD’s refusal to use its funding and other discretionary authority to cause the development of 3,200 units of public housing in predominantly white areas as required by the 1995 and 1996 remedial orders in the case. HUD had also failed to comply with virtually every other provision of the remedial order.
The development of 3,200 units in white areas would have eliminated one vestige of racial segregation by providing approximately the same number of public housing unit in white areas as there were in minority areas. In order to settle the plaintiffs’ claims that HUD was violating the remedial order, HUD proposed the 3,200 unit Settlement Voucher program along with a $9.95 million dollar fund for mobility assistance and financial assistance. The units were targeted for predominantly white areas defined as non-black and non-poverty concentrated census tracts. The units were offered in exchange for eliminating the 3,200 public housing unit requirement in the remedial order and for a final judgment dismissing HUD from the case./Documents/settlement voucher documents.pdf .The offer was accepted by the plaintiff class. But for the Fifth Circuit’s endorsement of the conditions necessary for an adequate Section 8 substitution plan, HUD would not have made the offer. The HUD brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice clearly accepted the race conscious elements of the Section 8 substitution plan./Documents/huddoj memo.pdf
The NIMBY litigation continued after the Fifth Circuit ruling. The district court entered a revised site selection order in 2001 over the objection of the North Dallas homeowners. The order eliminated the use of the term “white area” as a site selection criteria. The order required the use of court approved sites that would not perpetuate racial segregation and prohibited the practice of building public housing only in black areas rather than build in white areas or not build public housing at all. /Documents/walker revised site selection order.pdf
DHA subsequently proposed converting a 225 unit existing complex in an white area to public housing for consideration. While the surrounding predominantly white neighborhood associations publicly and vehemently opposed the site, no litigation resulted. The district court approved the site in 2003. DHA then proposed one of the 40 unit sites that had been the subject of the 1999 Fifth Circuit decision under the new site selection order. The homeowners who had been successful at the Fifth Circuit opposed this site. After a trial in 2003, the district court approved the site. The homeowners appealed to the Fifth Circuit and lost. Walker v. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 326 F.Supp.2d 780, 781 (N.D.Tex.,2004), affirmed 402 F.3d 532 (5th Cir. 2005). DHA broke ground for the 40 units in 2006, sixteen years after HUD initially allocated the funds.
The fourth neighborhood association attempt to block the construction of public housing that resulted in litigation arose out of the City, HUD, and DHA’s attempt to reduce the number of public housing units on the Roseland Homes site. In 1998, HUD awarded DHA a Hope VI grant to rehabilitate and revitalize the 600 unit Roseland Home public housing project. DHA’s previous application for the funding had been denied by HUD on the grounds that since the neighborhood was becoming more white and more affluent, the number of deep subsidy units needed to reduced. DHA’s new plan acquiesced in HUD’s requirement and reduced the number of deep subsidy units, public housing and Section 8 project based units, to 300. Plaintiffs filed pleadings in Walker alleging that this race conscious reduction in the number of public housing and other deep subsidy units violated the Walker remedial orders and the civil rights laws. After discovery, HUD and DHA agreed to a remedial order that allowed the revitalization to proceed but also required that 600 units of either public housing or Section 8 project based units be maintained either on the Roseland Homes site or in the immediate neighborhood.
/Documents/roseland homes agreed order.pdf
Several of the scattered sites chosen for the Roseland Homes public housing replacement units were in the immediate neighborhood but were located north of the traditional line of demarcation for white and black neighborhoods and in what were historical white neighborhoods that were also in the process of being redeveloped for a white and affluent higher income market. The local neighborhood organization obtained the cooperation of the local U.S. Congressman in opposing the development of the units on these sites. The homeowners filed allegations asking the district court to investigate and make a determination that DHA’s choices of these sites were illegal or otherwise inappropriate. The district court held a hearing and issued an order dismissing the homeowners’ allegations and authorizing the development of the scattered site housing on March 18, 2001. The homeowners appealed to the Fifth Circuit but failed to carry through with the required briefing and the appeal was dismissed. The units were built north of the demarcation line in the traditional white area.
West Dallas remedial proceedings
Once the issue of the West Dallas project as a cornerstone of DHA’s public housing program was raised, both the district court and the Fifth Circuit accepted the characterization of this 3,500 unit project as "a gigantic monument to segregation and neglect.” The judicial proceedings on the remedy for this monument stretched from 1987 to 1996. The actual implementation of the remedy was still underway in 2004.
The first remedial effort was in the 1987 consent decree. HUD and DHA agree to demolish and replace 2,600 of the 3,500 and rehabilitate the remaining 900 units. The use of federal funds for the demolition of the units was blocked by Congressional action. Because the City of Dallas had been a major lobbying force for this federal obstruction, the City was ordered to provide local funds in the event the federal government did not lift its ban on federal funding.
In 1992 and 1993, the City, HUD, and DHA sought court approval for a 2,000 unit public housing project on the West Dallas site. In order to obtain this approval, the defendants claimed they would not only rehabilitate and revitalize the West Dallas project but do the same for the entire West Dallas neighborhood. Plaintiffs opposed the request. When the defendants’ plan was completed, only the redevelopment of the West Dallas project was included. The neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment efforts were dropped because of the expense of such an undertaking. Based on plaintiffs opposition, the 2,000 unit West Dallas plan was dropped. Walker v. HUD, 99 F. 3d 761 (5th Cir. 1996).
The next proposal for the West Dallas project came in the form of the Cisneros Plan. As originally formulated, this 1994 plan would have redeveloped 1,600 units of public housing in the West Dallas project. This was approximately the total number of units that had been actually occupied during the 1970s and 1980s and until the opportunity to obtain alternative housing was given to the West Dallas families by the 1987 consent decree. The Cisneros Plan focused primarily on redeveloping the West Dallas project.
Plaintiffs continued to oppose the use of 1,600 units in the West Dallas project proposed in the Cisneros Plan. The opposition was based in part on the defendants’ refusal to correct the blighted and hazardous conditions in and around the West Dallas project. The absurdity of the proposal was highlighted by a series in the Dallas Morning News on the proposal. West Dallas at the time was an EPA Superfund site for lead pollution from a lead smelter that still adjoined the proposed site for the 1,600 units. The defendants subsequently reduced the number of units proposed for West Dallas to 1,200 units and then to no more than 950 units. Plaintiffs accepted the proposal for 950 units, the level set by the 1987 consent decree. The district court approved this modified version in1996.
The 1990 City of Dallas Consent Decree ¶¶ 3.4 required the City to provide $22,000,000 for a Housing Fund to be used “for the purpose of creating and obtaining in non-minority concentrated areas within the Dallas metropolitan area affordable housing for persons eligible for low rent public housing on terms substantially equivalent to the terms on which public housing is available.” The provision contemplated that DHA would be the entity administering the Fund but provided another entity could be designated by the court.
DHA refused to administer the Fund. The City refused to actually provide the money for the Fund but rather claimed that a book entry reserving Community Development Block Grant Funds for eventual use by the administrator, if there ever was an administrator or projects to be funded, satisfied its obligations. The Court ordered the City to pay the money into the Fund along with the interest that would have accrued had the City made timely payments.
Over the City’s objections, the Court appointed a Washington, D.C. housing developer and consultant, Telesis, Inc., to administer the process of creating and obtaining the affordable housing. The appointment was made in 1993. Telesis made four deals for public housing equivalent units for Walker class members that were approved by the court. Two of the deals are still being administered in the original form approved by the Court. The Wellington Place units in Coppell and the Peters Colony Apartments in Carrollton are part of the current Walker Apartments inventory. While the Wellington Place project required threatened litigation to enforce the deed restrictions making the Walker units substantially equivalent to public housing, both of these projects have provided decent, safe, and sanitary units in predominantly white areas of the suburbs for Walker class members.
The third deal involved the use of HUD project based Section 8 units and the acquisition of a Mesquite apartment complex, Cascade Park. The developer for the Cascade Park project was Cornerstone, a joint venture of The Enterprise Foundation and FNMA. Cornerstone refused to provide adequate maintenance at Cascade. Plaintiffs finally had to litigate to have a receiver appointed and the project sold to its current owner because of Cornerstone’s refusal to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing for any of its tenants. The post receivership project has performed adequately.
The fourth deal was with HUD and involved the Village of Eastgate in Garland. This project provided that in return for HUD giving the City of Garland the Village of Eastgate apartments and 89 Section 8 vouchers to Garland, Garland would set aside the Section 8 vouchers for Walker class members and limit 225 units for low income families at rents not to exceed 30% of Area Median Family Income. This arrangement was for seven years and expired in 2003.
No further deals were approved. Prospective developers were willing to take the money but were not willing to make any of the units available to Walker class members on terms substantially equivalent to public housing. Telesis resigned and DHA was appointed to administer the process of creating and obtaining the affordable housing. DHA made no proposals for units other than one proposal to use part of the Housing Fund as part of the Roseland Homes revitalization program.
In an effort to use the Housing Fund for the benefit of the class, plaintiffs’ counsel first proposed the use of part of the interest on the Fund to help class members pay security deposits on units in eligible areas. DHA administered this program on a trial basis but refused to either expand or continue the program. Less than $100,000 was used in this manner. Plaintiffs’ counsel subsequently proposed that the Housing Fund be used by DHA to provide mobility counseling and other forms of financial assistance to class members. The 2001 Order for the Revisions to the Housing Fund sets out the details of this program. /Documents/apr 26 01 order revis hf.pdf
DHA did not implement the program. The Housing Fund was dormant from 2001 until December 2004 when the Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. was appointed to administer the Fund.
2001 HUD Settlement Stipulation and DHA’s Substitution Plan Order
The Court had invited both HUD and DHA to propose plans for the substitution of Section 8 units for all or part of the 3,200 public housing units that the 1995 and 1996 Remedial Orders set as the benchmark for eliminating a vestige of the prior segregation. As set out in the NIMBY section above, HUD, in 2001, proposed the provision of the 3,200 Settlement Vouchers and the accompanying $9.95 million in mobility funding and financial assistance including landlord bonuses, security deposit payments, moving expenses, utility deposits, and lease applications fees. The Settlement Vouchers can be used only by class members. The Settlement Voucher can be used only in non-black, non-poverty, predominantly white areas. HUD agreed that the rents paid for the Settlement Vouchers could be for amounts up to 125% of the fair market rents set for the regular Section 8 Voucher program. HUD offered this agreement in return for the plaintiff class’ agreement to dismiss HUD from the case.
/Documents/settlement voucher documents.pdf
After the court approved the HUD settlement, DHA proposed to use the Settlement Vouchers and the HUD funding as the basis for DHA’s plan to substitute Section 8 for public housing unit creation in white areas. The 1995 Remedial Order Affecting DHA had set two requirements on any Section 8 substitution plan. One, the units had to be an additional allocation of Section 8 units.1995 Remedial Order ¶¶ A.7. The HUD Settlement Voucher allocation met this requirement. Two, the Section 8 units for which an offset against new public housing development was claimed had to “be in use in predominantly white areas for the foreseeable future.” 1995 Remedial Order ¶¶ A.7. b. Remedial Order Affecting DHA. In order to ensure that the Settlement Vouchers were used in accord with the HUD settlement and that the Settlement Vouchers provide an adequate substitute for public housing, DHA has to submit and obtain court approval for its plan to administer the Settlement Voucher program.
HUD made an initial allocation of 2,105 Settlement Vouchers in 2001. DHA began issuing the Settlement Vouchers in 2002 and claimed to have used all 2,105 in eligible areas by the end of 2004. In fact, DHA had used 55 Settlement Vouchers in non-eligible areas. DHA had to refund the assistance used for these vouchers and reissue the vouchers for use in eligible areas. Congress funded and HUD issued the remaining 1,100 Settlement Vouchers in 2006. As of August 1, 2008, DHA has issued several hundred of these 1,100 Settlement Vouchers.
City and DHA final judgments
In 2003 the plaintiff class agreed to a final judgment releasing the City from the court’s jurisdiction in stages. The last stage occurred in August, 2006. /Documents/city final judgment.pdf
In 2004, the plaintiff class agreed to a final judgment releasing DHA from the court’s jurisdiction in stages. The Settlement Voucher program is one area of the court’s retained jurisdiction. Completion of DHA’s obligation to complete the last 40 units of the 674 units of new public housing allocated in 1990 in non-black and non-poverty concentrated areas is another. /Documents/dha final judgment.pdf