U. S. v. Starrett City Associates Case Brief

Summary of U. S. v. Starrett City Associates, U.S. Ct of App [1988]

Relevant Facts: Dfs constructed, owned and operated the largest housing development in the nation, consisting of 46 buildings, containing 5881 units. The US Dept of HUD subsidizes Dfs monthly mortgage payments. NYC approved a transfer of real estate tax abatement to Df on condition “upon the assurance of Df’s developer that it was intended to create a racially integrated community." Df sought to maintain a racial distribution by racial quotas through the adoption of tenanting procedures to promote and maintain the desired racial balance. Applicants names, racial profile, and income info are included w/i a pool, when an apartment becomes open, depending upon the race of the tenant leaving, an applicant w/ a similar race is notified .

Legal Issue(s): Whether the Dfs policy and practice of limiting the number of apartments available to minorities in order to maintain a prescribed degree of racial balance is in violation of the FHA.

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Trial ct. granted summary to Govt, Df appealed, affirmed.

Law or Rule(s): Discrimination b/c of race, color, or national origin in the sale or rental of housing by refusing to rent or make available any dwelling, offering discriminatory “terms, conditions, or privileges" of rental’ making, printing, publishing any notice, statement, or advertisement that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on ; and representing to any person that any dwelling is not available for rental when such dwelling is in fact so available. -Title VII

Court Rationale: Housing practices unlawful under Title VIII include not only those motivated by racial discrimination but those that disproportionately affect minorities. Allocation of public housing on the basis of racial quotas, by denying an applicant access to a unit otherwise available solely b/c of race, produces a discriminatory effect. Even if Df were a state actor, they are not, racial quotas and related practices to maintain integration violate the Act. The Leg Hx indicates that quotas promote integration but contravene its antidiscrimination policy. The Leg hx provides no further guidance. Under the 13th and 14th and VIII the S. Ct. found permissible race-conscious affirmative action in examining race quotas under FHA However, it cannot be ageless in its reach into the past nor timeless toward affecting the future.

The only goal Df has in integration maintenance. The quotas have existed for 10 yrs, and dfs expect another 15. These practices are not temporary, and no definite termination date is perceivable. There is no existence of prior discrim or discrimory imbalance adversely affecting whites w/i df complex. The complex was initiated as an integrated complex for the purpose of employing race-based tenanting practices. Dfs quotas do not provide minorities w/ access to the complex, but act as a ceiling to their access. Race quotas of indefinite periods of time to maintain fixed levels of integration violate VIII.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Df’s practices of renting apartments solely on the basis of applicants’ race or national origin, and making apartments unavailable to minority applicants violates F H Act.

Defendant’s Argument: The tenanting procedures were adopted at the behest of the state, and were therefor clothed in govt authority, solely to achieve and maintain a racially integrated community.

DISSENT: Title VIII bars discriminatory housing practices in order to end segregation. Starrett City is not promoting segregated housing. The statute was never intended to apply to such actions. The statute was intended to bar perpetuation of segregation. Until Congress or NYC decides for the Nation or NYC that it prefers to outlaw maintenance of integration, the policy choice should remain that of private property owners.

Concerning Otero- There is nothing in the text of VIII that supports a race-conscious rental policy adopted to promote integration simply b/c the policy was of limited duration. VIII bars a race-conscious rental policy whether adopted on a short term or a long term basis.

OTERO – Public housing authorities have a federal constitutional and statutory duty “to fulfill, as much as possible, the goal of open, integrated residential housing patterns and to prevent the increase of segregation, in ghettos."

According to Majority in Starrett the Difference in OTERO : It did not involve long-term maintenance of specified levels of integration, but the rental of 171 out of 360 new apartments to non-former site occupants, predominantly white, while former site residents, largely minority, sought those apartments and were entitled to priority. Otero did not delineate the statutory or constitutional limits on permissible means of integration. The action challenged only a single event-the initial rent up of new complexs-and determined tenancy in the first instance. Suspension of NYCHA regulation did not operate as a strict racial quota, b/c the former site residents entitled to a rental priority were approximately 40% white.

Animus – animosity, spite or displeasure, anger.

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