Filed Date: April 17, 1978
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On April 17, 1978, two citizens of Massachusetts filed lawsuits under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977 against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs, represented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by racially discriminatory disbursement of federal housing funds in the cities of Boston and Chelsea.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Judge Walter J. Skinner) dismissed for lack of standing the portion of each complaint relating to Urban Development Action Grant funding and entered partial judgment for the defendants under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). The plaintiffs appealed.
On October 18, 1979, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Judge Levin H. Campbell) partially affirmed and partially reversed the district court's dismissal for lack of standing, holding that black residents of minority neighborhoods who were elected members of the state legislature did not have standing, but that black persons living in substandard housing in a segregated area of the city during the years in question did have standing to sue for declaratory and injunctive relief. N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter v. Harris, 607 F.2d 514 (1st Cir. 1979).
On January 23, 1981, the district court (Judge Skinner) denied the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter v. Harris, No.78-850, 1981 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10552 (D.Mass. 1981). On April 27, 1983, the district court held that 1) individual plaintiffs lacked standing to maintain the action; 2) that the organization representing the city's black citizens had standing in its own right to maintain the action; 3) that the evidence did not warrant a finding that HUD financed city programs that were either intentionally discriminatory or had discriminatory impact; but 4) that HUD did not satisfy minimum levels of compliance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. §3608, which provided for full implementation of the fair housing policy. N.A.A.C.P. v. Harris, 567 F.Supp. 637 (D.Mass. 1983).
After claiming to have brought its actions into compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1968, HUD asked the district court to dismiss the case. On December 31, 1985, the district court (Judge Skinner) granted the motion to dismiss, holding that he had no jurisdiction to review HUD's administration of the Fair Housing Act. N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter v. Pierce, 624 F.Supp. 1083 (D.Mass. 1985). The plaintiffs appealed. On March 19, 1987, the First Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the case and reversed, holding that the federal courts did have jurisdiction. N.A.A.C.P. v. Secretary of Housing & Urban Dev., 817 F.2d 149 (1st Cir. 1987).
On July 4, 1987, the district court (Judge Skinner) stayed the action and ordered the parties to participate in mediation. On December 14, 1988, the parties reported that their attempts to reach a resolution through mediation had failed. On June 23, 1989, the district court granted declaratory and injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, holding that the defendants had failed to comply with the minimal requirements of 42 U.S.C. §3608(e)(5) by failing to 1) promulgate regulations and guidelines setting forth standards for HUD's administration and recipients' use of funds, 2) secure a minority needs assessment in a timely manner, 3) finance the increase of desegregated housing stock to give minority families meaningful choice of location, and 4) require effective fair housing enforcement by the City of Boston. N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter v. Kemp, 721 F.Supp. 361 (D.Mass. 1989). The court supplemented this decision with a final decree providing for fair housing funding, monitoring, and reporting to the court. N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter v. Kemp, 721 F.Supp. 361 (D.Mass. 1989). The defendants asked the court to clarify its obligations under the decree, and on September 14, 1989, the district court amended the final decree to clarify HUD's obligations. N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter v. Kemp, 721 F.Supp. 361 (D.Mass. 1989).
The defendants were not happy about the district court's order. Rather than appeal, they worked out a consent decree with the plaintiffs. Under the consent decree, HUD agreed to subsidize 500 Section 8 vouchers, most of which BHA was to administer. The vouchers were designed to allow minority families to move into white neighborhoods. The court entered the consent decree in 1991.
The docket was closed from 1991 to 1995, but then reopened, and the decree was modified by agreement in 1997. On September 30, 1999, the court again "closed" the case--but apparently, again, for docket management purposes only; status reports and other events continue to be noted in the docket. On May 23, 2005, the NAACP asked the court to enforce the consent decree; on November 9, 2005, the district court (Judge Douglas P. Woodlock) re-opened discovery on the issue. On January 19, 2006, the court denied the NAACP's motion without prejudice pending further factual development. On November 15, 2006, the NAACP filed its a supplemental complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from HUD for breach of its obligations pursuant to the modified consent decree, and from HUD, BHA, and the City for breach of their obligations pursuant to the Modification Agreement.
On March 17, 2009, the court 1) denied HUD's motion for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, suggestion to the court that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction, 2) denied the City's motion for judgment on the pleadings but granted its motion for summary judgment, 3) denied NAACP's motion for summary judgment as to all of its claims against all of the defendants, 4) granted BHA's motion for summary judgment as to NAACP's supplemental complaint, but denied BHA's Motion for summary judgment as to its counterclaim against NAACP, and 5) granted summary judgment sua sponte to HUD as to NAACP's supplemental complaint, and to NAACP as to BHA's counterclaim. The court then entered judgment for the defendants on all counts. N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter v. HUD, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24346 (D.Mass 2009).
Nothing of substance has appeared on the docket since 2009, but the entry of a minor administrative order in 2014 suggests that the consent decree remains in force.
Elizabeth Daligga (7/17/2012)
Bogyung Lim (2/18/2020)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4274679/parties/naacp-v-cisneros/
Allen, Richard (Massachusetts)
Atkins, Thomas I. (Massachusetts)
Barshak, Edward J. (Massachusetts)
Bernstein, Judith S. (Illinois)
Bickford, Daniel B. (Massachusetts)
Breyer, Stephen Gerald (District of Columbia)
Campbell, Levin Hicks (Massachusetts)
Skinner, Walter Jay (Massachusetts)
Woodlock, Douglas Preston (Massachusetts)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4274679/naacp-v-cisneros/
Last updated July 4, 2023, 3 a.m.
State / Territory: Massachusetts
Filing Date: April 17, 1978
Case Ongoing: Yes
NAACP challenging disbursement of federalhousing funds to cities
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: Unknown
Class Action Outcome: Unknown
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Order Duration: 1991 - None
Content of Injunction: