University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name United States v. NYC Housing Authority, Davis v. NYC Housing Authority PH-NY-0002
Docket / Court 1:90-cv-628 ( S.D.N.Y. )
Additional Docket(s) 1:92-cv-4873  [ 92-4873 ]  Southern District of NY (U.S.)
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Public Housing
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
These are two cases about housing segregation in New York City.

On January 31, 1990, two black and Hispanic individuals residing in or eligible for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing ("the Davis plaintiffs") filed a class action lawsuit against the NYCHA under the ... read more >
These are two cases about housing segregation in New York City.

On January 31, 1990, two black and Hispanic individuals residing in or eligible for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing ("the Davis plaintiffs") filed a class action lawsuit against the NYCHA under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981-83. Represented by the Legal Aid Society, the Davis plaintiffs alleged that, since 1983, the Housing Authority discriminated on the basis of race, color, and national origin against black and Hispanic tenants in the selection and assignment of public housing by restricting certain housing projects to white tenants, using racial goals or targets for new projects, and assigning families to projects with no vacancies.

The case was assigned to Judge Pierre N. Leval. The Davis plaintiffs amended their complaint on May 31, 1990, and the defendants answered February 28, 1991. We do not have access to these early trial documents.

On July 1, 1992, the U.S. filed its own lawsuit against the NYCHA. Besides the initial trial documents in the U.S. government's case, all of the filings in U.S. v. NYC Housing Authority were originally filed in Davis v. NYC Housing Authority.

Also on July 1, 1992, the parties filed a proposed consent decree resolving all of the plaintiffs' claims. Under the decree, the NYCHA would agree to certify a class, provide priority placement for 1,990 adversely affected families at 31 public housing projects, and pay for moving expenses. HUD would also provide 200 Section 8 housing vouchers for use in the private housing market by families who were adversely affected during 1983-1984. The consent decree also stipulated that a "Tenant Selection and Assignment Plan" (TSAP) would be created to prohibit past practices and provide more information for black and Hispanic families would might be otherwise unaware of certain housing opportunities. In exchange, the plaintiffs waived monetary damages to unnamed class members, partial relief for 1983-1984, and relief for some largely non-white housing projects in East Harlem. 1992 WL 420923.

As part of the class certification process, the court held a hearing on November 6, 1992, to determine if certifying the proposed plaintiff class would be "fair, reasonable, and adequate." Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(2). We don't have access to documents specifying how the parties defined the class. Shortly after, the court approved the consent decree on November 16. The court also issued a judgment that the defendant would pay monetary damages of $60,000 and attorneys' fees of $40,000 plus the cost of a toll-free telephone. On December 31, the court published its findings of fact and conclusions of law. In its opinion, it found that the consent decree was a reasonable compromise because of the value provided to the plaintiffs and the potential risks and delays associated with litigation. 1992 WL 420923.

The defendant filed a motion to clarify the consent decree. In response, the U.S. moved to enjoin the defendant from moving forward with its tenanting plan at its Berry Street Project on October 19, 1993, and the Davis plaintiffs followed with a cross motion for a permanent injunction the next day. The U.S. also filed a motion on November 4 in support of enforcing the consent decree. On December 2, the court granted the defendant's motion and clarified some procedural questions surrounding the TSAP and transfer applications. However, the court also found that the defendant's plan to use dual lists for "Larger Apartments" at its the Berry Street Project were not consistent with the consent decree, and issued a preliminary injunction. 839 F.Supp.215 (S.D.N.Y. 1993). The court's order was filed on December 30.

Three days earlier, on December 27, 1993, the defendant submitted a proposed settlement to answer the motions filed in the preceding months. Both the Davis plaintiffs and the U.S. replied with a counterproposal on January 4, 1994.

In October 1996, letters from the plaintiffs and defendant were filed in both cases regarding proposed changes to the TSAP from the NYCHA, resulting in a pre-trial conference on October 28. On November 15, the Davis plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the NYCHA from implementing those modifications to the TSAP.

On July 18, 1997, the court issued an opinion in response to a motion from the plaintiffs. The court enjoined the NYCHA from implementing a "Working Family Preference" (WFP), which altered the factors determining whether an applicant would be granted an interview and gave preference to families who could pay the most. However, the court did permit the NYCHA to expand its "Project Choice" to allow larger families to specify preferences for projects. 1997 WL 407250. The defendants filed a motion on August 4 for the district court to reconsider, but the court denied the motion on November 17, with an amended opinion filed on November 20. However, the court did modify the preliminary injunction so that the NYCHA was permitted to implement the WFP in projects where fewer than 30% of the families were white. 1997 WL 711360.

Later that year, the defendant appealed the court's denial of their reconsider motion to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, with an amended notice dated December 3, 1997. On January 22, 1999, the Court of Appeals vacated the district court's opinion from July 18, 1997, citing the district court's lack of detail in concluding that the NYCHA's proposed plan would perpetuate segregation. It left the preliminary injunction intact, but remanded the case. For the remand, the Second Circuit requested that the district court develop sufficient precision around which parts of the proposed modifications would perpetuate segregation and what exactly the impact would be. The appeals court also asked for more detail regarding the data and methodology used in the statistical analysis that showed the potential impact of the proposed changes. 60 F.Supp.2d 220 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).

The remand was filed on February 18, 1999, and a hearing in the district court was held on June 18. The district court issued its opinion on August 11, denying the defendant's motion to lift the preliminary injunction and granting the plaintiff's motion to make the preliminary injunction a permanent injunction. Id.

In response, the defendant appealed on September 3, 1999. The Court of Appeals issued an order in the case on February 23, 2000. It asked for move-out figures under the WFP, how the WFP would affect each housing project's speed at which it achieved a white occupancy rate under 30%, and a more accurate estimate for the white admissions rate under the WFP. 205 F.Supp.3d 1322 (2d Cir. 2000). On remand in June 2000, the district court found that the updated numbers did not change the conclusion that the WFP would significantly perpetuate discrimination. 103 F.Supp.2d 228 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).

After this district court ruling, the defendant appealed again. On January 3, 2002, the Court of Appeals found the district court's updated numbers and analysis to be satisfactory, and determined that the district court was correct in concluding that the WFP would cause legally significant delays in desegregation. As a result, the Court of Appeals affirmed the injunction. 278 F.Supp.3d 64 (2d Cir. 2002).

On March 7, 2002, the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court, which denied the petition for writ of certiorari on June 10, 2002.

In addition to the permanent injunction, the court awarded monetary relief. On August 2, 2002, the plaintiff filed for $568,725.81 in attorneys' fees, costs, and other expenses. On December 11, the district court awarded $306,467.75 in attorneys' fees, $2,273.74 in Westlaw fees, $70.33 in long distance telephone charges, and $84.50 in travel and postage charges. This total amounted to $308,896.32 in attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses.

This case has finished.

Lauren Yu - 02/23/2021

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Preliminary relief granted
Housing Authority
Housing Sales/Rental
Race discrimination
Disparate Treatment
Housing assistance
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Racial segregation
National Origin/Ethnicity
Plaintiff Type
Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1982
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) New York City Housing Authority
Plaintiff Description Black and Hispanic individuals residing in or eligible for New York City Housing Authority housing.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 01/31/1990
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Urban Institute Baseline Assessment of Public Housing Desegregation Cases
Date: 2000
By: George Galster et al. (Urban Institute, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Faculty)
Citation: (2000)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Court Docket(s)
PH-NY-0002-9001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PH-NY-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion and Order [Approving Settlement] (1992 WL 420923)
PH-NY-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Opinion [Granting Preliminary Injunctive Relief] (839 F.Supp. 215)
PH-NY-0002-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 454] (940 F.Supp. 80)
PH-NY-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Opinion [Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion to Enjoin] (1997 WL 407250)
PH-NY-0002-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Opinion [Modifying Preliminary Injunction] (1997 WL 711360)
PH-NY-0002-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (60 F.Supp.2d 220)
PH-NY-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: District Court
U.S. Court of Appeals
Summary Order [Remanding Case] (205 F.3d 1322)
PH-NY-0002-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (103 F.Supp.2d 228)
PH-NY-0002-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (278 F.3d 64)
PH-NY-0002-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Supreme Court
Opinion [Denying Writ of Certiorari] (536 U.S. 904)
PH-NY-0002-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (2002 WL 31748586)
PH-NY-0002-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Kearse, Amalya Lyle (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
PH-NY-0002-0008 | PH-NY-0002-0010
Leval, Pierre Nelson (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit) show/hide docs
PH-NY-0002-0002 | PH-NY-0002-9001
Pooler, Rosemary S. (N.D.N.Y., Second Circuit) show/hide docs
PH-NY-0002-0008 | PH-NY-0002-0010
Sweet, Robert Workman (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PH-NY-0002-0001 | PH-NY-0002-0003 | PH-NY-0002-0004 | PH-NY-0002-0005 | PH-NY-0002-0006 | PH-NY-0002-0009 | PH-NY-0002-0012 | PH-NY-0002-9000
Walker, John Mercer Jr. (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit) show/hide docs
PH-NY-0002-0008 | PH-NY-0002-0010
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gorenstein, Gabriel W. (New York) show/hide docs
Millman, Claude M (New York) show/hide docs
Rosenberg, Scott Alan (New York) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Schanback, Jeffrey (New York) show/hide docs
Scheindlin, Shira A. (New York) show/hide docs

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -