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Case Name Hawkins v. HUD PH-NE-0001
Docket / Court 8:90-cv-55 ( D. Neb. )
State/Territory Nebraska
Case Type(s) Public Housing
Case Summary
On February 2, 1990, four public housing residents in Omaha filed this class action lawsuit against the Omaha Housing Authority (OHA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the City of Omaha in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. The plaintiffs alleged ... read more >
On February 2, 1990, four public housing residents in Omaha filed this class action lawsuit against the Omaha Housing Authority (OHA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the City of Omaha in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. The plaintiffs alleged that the manner in which federal housing assistance programs were administered in Omaha was discriminatory and served to maintain a system of racially segregated housing. According to the Galster Report (a study commissioned by the Urban Institute on housing desegregation lawsuits), “the plaintiffs alleged that OHA deliberately sited public housing developments in the minority areas of Omaha and used special criteria to screen applicants to the housing authority’s scattered-site program that were discriminatory.” Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief.

Following the filing of the compliant, the parties entered into a long and hotly disputed discovery process that lasted nearly four years.

Chief Judge Lyle E. Strom granted a preliminary injunction on November 13, 1991, which enjoined the OHA from imposing any criteria on residents who needed to relocate from a planned demolition (because at that time no existing residents could meet the program’s requirements for scatter-site housing), and permitted HUD to authorize departures from the OHA tenant selection and assignment plan based on the findings of its occupancy audit. However, on August 11, 1992 Chief Judge Strom dismissed the plaintiffs' claim that the housing practices also discriminated against elderly persons and denied their motion to certify a class. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on the same day.

The case went to trial on August 9, 1993, but before it was completed, the parties agreed to a settlement that Chief Judge Strom approved on January 21, 1994. According to the Galster Report, the settlement defined a class of “all past and present applicants for and past and present recipients of federal housing assistance administered by OHA for low-income persons in Omaha; past and present residents of Tommie Rose Gardens [a private Section 8 development]; residents (as of July 31, 1991) of Logan Fontenelle Homes eligible for, but excluded from, scattered site single-family dwellings operated by OHA.” The agreement provided for “the demolition and replacement of public housing units, issuance of new Section 8 subsidies, establishment of a housing mobility program, and inspections of properties accepting Section 8 subsidies.”

Following the settlement agreement, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce the settlement. On January 10, 1995 Chief Judge Strom granted the motion to enforce based on the "continuing hostility between the parties," which caused the difficulties in implementing the settlement agreement, and ordered OHA to pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

By October 1998, “the majority of the elements have been implemented, although one key element, the provision of replacement housing, had not been completed.” The three main reasons given for lack of implementation were the “timing of demolition, opposition to replacement plans, and replacement costs.” The demolition happened almost immediately and totally after settlement, and as result there was not sufficient replacement housing ready following the demolition. OHA then attempted to purchase property for scatterer-site public housing, but it received considerable opposition from residents of the neighborhoods in which the units were to be located. And finally, somewhere between 1996 and 1997 OHA realized that the remaining $29 million would be insufficient to acquire the necessary replacement housing under the settlement. OHA requested an additional $10 million from HUD, but HUD required a full audit of the program and, as of October 1998, it had yet to approve the request.

However, the other four elements of the settlement were successfully implemented by October 1998:
1) Demolition: “OHA demolished the public housing units at the three developments named in the settlement.”
2) Issuance of new section 8 subsidies: “OHA received from HUD the 100 new Section 8 subsidies and issued them in accordance with the settlement.”
3) Establishment of a housing mobility program: “FHAS, the organization chosen, established Project Jericho and the program continues to function. The program had served 930 households and placed 663 households in housing from when it began through May, 1998. Of the households placed, 59 percent moved into or within nonimpacted areas of the city.”
4) Inspections of properties accepting Section 8 subsidies: “HUD conducted the required HQS reviews of Section 8 properties.” (Galster Report.)

On February 2, 2005 the replacement of public housing units required by the settlement was still unfulfilled, so the parties agreed on a modification to the original settlement agreement, which (1) established express deadlines for completion of the replacement housing; and (2) stated that completion required either total rehabilitation of existing housing or total completion of new housing.

On November 17, 2005 the case was dismissed as the terms of the settlement agreement had been satisfied. The case is now closed.

Madeline Buday - 11/13/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Housing Authority
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Buildings
Disparate Impact
Housing
Housing assistance
Public assistance grants
Racial segregation
Sanitation / living conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) City of Omaha
Omaha Housing Authority
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Plaintiff Description Four public housing residents on behalf of a class of "all past and present applicants for and past and present recipients of federal housing assistance administered by OHA for low-income persons in Omaha; past and present residents of Tommie Rose Gardens [a private Section 8 development]; residents (as of July 31, 1991) of Logan Fontenelle Homes eligible for, but excluded from, scattered site single-family dwellings operated by OHA."
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1994 - 2005
Filed 02/02/1990
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  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)
D. Neb.
11/17/2005
8:90-cv-55
PH-NE-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Neb.
11/04/1993
Settlement Agreement
PH-NE-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
D. Neb.
02/14/2005
Modification to Settlement Agreement [ECF #474] [ECF# 474]
PH-NE-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Neb.
11/17/2005
Order to Dismiss [ECF# 480]
PH-NE-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Strom, Lyle Elmer (D. Neb.) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-0001 | PH-NE-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benson, Arthur A. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Clarkson, Mary P (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-0002 | PH-NE-0001-9000 | PH-NE-0001-9000
Johnson, Veronica (Missouri) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Moritz, Dianne E (Missouri) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
O'Roark, Timothy M (Colorado) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000 | PH-NE-0001-9000
Shepard, Karen L (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000 | PH-NE-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bradford, Dana C III (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-0002 | PH-NE-0001-9000
Bunger, Charles K (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Cotton, Sheri E (Georgia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Flagg, Patricia Sharin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-0002
Forrest, Herbert E (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-0002
Gerson, Stuart M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Goldberg, Arthur Robert (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Grzeskowiak, Colleen B (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Herold, John W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Kratz, Paul D (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Madgett, Paul W. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
McKeone, Deborah J (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Schmeltzer, Howard M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Shaw, Stephen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Simpson, Kevin M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Sitcov, Michael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-0002
Von Baxter, Felix (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Whitner, Eric L (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000
Zabin, Harold M (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PH-NE-0001-9000

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