This paper seeks to build on existing housing desegregation literature by examining more specifically how the choices made in the organization of an order or consent decree affect its prospects for effective implementation. In particular, it examines how remedies for discrimination and segregation in federally-subsidized housing programs can be designed to better serve the implementation goals of civil rights advocates. The recent implementation history of a five-pronged consent decree governing federally-assisted housing in Boston provides a good opportunity to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of different remedial provisions in a single case.
This case study begins by presenting, in the following sections of Part I, a description of the dynamics of racial discrimination and segregation that have plagued federally-assisted housing programs, with special attention to the practices challenged in NAACP, Boston Chapter v. HUD -- 78-850-S, 607 F.2d 514 (1st Cir. 1979) --. Next, Part II offers a history of the case, focusing on the factors that shaped the remedy ultimately won by the plaintiffs. Part III examines the successes and failures of several terms of the Consent Decree, drawing several lessons for civil rights advocates interested in maximizing the efficacy with which defendants implement obligations imposed pursuant to either court orders or consent decrees. Most importantly, it urges that advocates seek to establish remedial schemes that provide incentives for compliance not merely with the terms of a decree but also with its underlying desegregative goals; in addition, enforcement mechanisms must be created to establish a continuing procedural role for plaintiffs (or other monitoring bodies) in ensuring that implementation of remedial terms does not deviate from the substantive goals of the remedy.