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GAUTREAUX v. CHICAGO HOUSING AUTHORITY

February 10, 1969

DOROTHY GAUTREAUX ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CHICAGO HOUSING AUTHORITY ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Austin, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs, Negro tenants in or applicants for public housing, sue on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated alleging that defendants, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), a municipal corporation, and C.E. Humphrey, Executive Director of CHA, have violated their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Count I charges that defendants intentionally chose sites for family public housing and adopted tenant assignment procedures in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983 for the purpose of maintaining existing patterns of residential separation of races in Chicago. Count III alleges that regardless of their intentions defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983 by failing to select family public housing sites in such locations as would alleviate existing patterns of residential separation. Counts II and IV repeat the allegations in Counts I and III respectively and demand relief under 42 U.S.C. § 2000d (Section 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964).

On March 2, 1967 this court denied defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to Counts I and II and granted the motion as to Counts III and IV, 265 F. Supp. 582. Plaintiffs' remaining requests for relief include (1) a declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Secs. 2201 and 2202 that defendants have selected sites in violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights, (2) a permanent injunction against the racially discriminatory aspects of the public housing system, (3) an order directing defendants to submit and carry out a plan for selection of future sites to eliminate these discriminatory aspects, and (4) a declaratory judgment that plaintiffs have the right under 42 U.S.C. § 2000d to end the use of federal funds to perpetuate the racially discriminatory aspects of the public housing system and an injunction against such use. Since March 2, 1967 the parties have amassed thousands of pages of depositions, affidavits and exhibits. Both parties now move for summary judgment on Counts I and II.

I. Discriminatory Tenant Assignment Practices.

Plaintiffs charge that defendants have imposed quotas at four White family housing projects to keep the number of Negro families to a minimal level.

The Trumbull, Lathrop, Lawndale and Bridgeport projects were built before 1944 in areas which were then and are now substantially all White. Baron Affidavit, Exhibit A. Until 1954 CHA refused to permit Negro families to reside in these projects. Statement of Elizabeth Wood, Head of CHA until August 23, 1954. The Negro population in the four projects on December 31, 1967 represented respectively about 7%, 4%, 6% and 1% of the total. Stipulation, July 29, 1968. At present Negroes comprise about 90% of the tenants in CHA family housing projects and about 90% of the waiting list of 13,000 persons. CHA Sept. 20 Brief, p. 7, p. 18.

The disparity between the low number of Negro families in these projects and the high number of Negro applicants for all projects indicates that CHA has imposed a Negro quota. Alvin Rose, Executive Director (chief executive officer) of CHA from September 1957 to November 1967, testified on deposition that CHA devised "elastic quotas" (p. 173) at the four projects which can more accurately be characterized as "fixed" (p. 180). Harry Schneider, Deputy Executive Director of CHA, formerly Director of Management from May 1950 to January 1968, testified that until May 22, 1968 these four projects were listed on CHA tenant selection forms as appropriate for "A families only," that is, Whites only. Schneider Dep., p. 77. He states that in these projects there are "controls" on the number of Negro applicants accepted. (p. 75), that Negro population in these projects is now "fairly close" to the "appropriate maximum number" (p. 78), and that if, for example, Trumbull attained the level of 35 Negro families a "hold" would maintain the occupancy at that level (p. 84.) Mrs. Louise Webb, in charge of processing tenant applications for CHA, confirms Mr. Schneider's testimony that quotas are now in force. Webb Dep., p. 61.

CHA does not contradict these statements of its own officials. The "history of tension, threats of violence and violence" urged in justification by CHA cannot excuse a governmentally established policy of racial segregation. Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 78 S.Ct. 1401, 3 L.Ed.2d 5 (1958). In fact, the only violent incident mentioned by Mr. Schneider occurred in 1953, and Mr. Rose recalled that one incident indicating White hostility to Negroes occurred at Bridgeport in 1959. Schneider Dep., p. 63; Rose Dep., p. 163. Precautions taken in the wake of these incidents such as notifying the police and Human Relations Commission are no longer taken when Negroes are moved into the White projects. Schneider Dep., p. 82. These remote incidents do not show a clear threat of violence which might justify quotas as a very temporary expedient. In any case, CHA's quotas clearly have maintained Negro occupancy at a permanently low level. Therefore, plaintiffs are entitled to appropriate relief against the defendants' policy of denying applications to the four projects on the basis of racial quotas. Detroit Housing Commission v. Lewis, 226 F.2d 180 (6th Cir. 1955).

II. Discriminatory Site Selection Procedures

In choosing sites for public housing, the CHA is directed by statute to follow these criteria:

Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 67 1/2, Sec. 8.2.

The City Council must approve all sites before they are acquired. Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 67 1/2, Sec. 9. However, CHA is not compelled to acquire or build upon all sites thus approved. Humphrey Dep., p. 107.

Plaintiffs charge that the procedure mainly used by defendants to maintain existing patterns of racial residential separation involved a pre-clearance arrangement under which CHA informally submitted sites for family housing to the City Council Alderman in whose ward the site was located. CHA admits the existence of this procedure. E.g., Humphrey Aff't., p. 7. The Alderman to whom White sites were submitted allegedly vetoed these sites because the 90% Negro waiting list and occupancy rate would create a Negro population in the White area. Plaintiffs allege that the few White sites ...


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