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GAUTREAUX v. ROMNEY

October 1, 1971

DOROTHY GAUTREAUX ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GEORGE W. ROMNEY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

It is particularly appropriate and fortuitous that this opinion is being handed down today, during the period that the Mayor has proclaimed as Model Cities Week. It is appropriate because it pinpoints who will be responsible for either the continuance or the discontinuance of the Model Cities Program in the City of Chicago.

In order to put in proper focus and perspective the problem confronting the court, the petition for an injunction, the hearing of last week, and the order to be entered today, the court feels it necessary to outline the historical background of this matter.

In 1966 the plaintiffs filed two different suits, one against Chicago Housing Authority and the other against the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Preparation for trial, by means of discovery, commenced first in the suit against Chicago Housing Authority. Documents from the files of Chicago Housing Authority and sworn testimony from the lips of present and former Chicago Housing Authority supervisory personnel revealed overwhelming and irrefutable evidence of twenty years of deliberate housing segregation on the part of Chicago Housing Authority. That was found to be the fact by this court in its decree of July, 1969, twenty-six months ago. After frantically consulting all the legal talent available to it, Chicago Housing Authority apparently determined that an appeal of this decree would be hopeless and abandoned it. The net effect of this was to permit the decree to stand unchallenged and thus become the law of the Northern District of Illinois.

At this point the court wishes to interpolate a new facet. Twenty-one days ago, it was judicially determined by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, 448 F.2d 731, that the Department of Housing and Urban Development was equally guilty and responsible with Chicago Housing Authority for deliberately perpetuating segregated housing. Relevant excerpts from that opinion follow:

  "HUD's approval and funding of segregated CHA
  housing sites cannot be excused as an attempted
  accommodation of an admittedly urgent need for
  housing with the reality of community and City
  Council resistance.
  "The fact that a governmental agency might have
  made `numerous and consistent efforts' toward
  desegregation has not yet been held to negate
  liability for an otherwise segregated result.
  "It also is not seriously disputed on appeal that
  the Secretary exercised the above described
  powers in a manner which perpetuated a racially
  discriminatory housing system in Chicago, and
  that the Secretary and other HUD officials were
  aware of that fact.
  "On such facts, and given the inapplicability of
  HUD's `good faith' arguments, we are unable to
  avoid the conclusion that the Secretary's past
  actions constituted racially discriminatory
  conduct in their own right.
  "We hold that HUD, through its Secretary,
  violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth
  Amendment * * and also has violated Section 601
  of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 * * *"

Getting back to the July, 1969 decree, the next problem was the manner in which the illegal conduct that the court found could be remedied and ameliorated. Chicago Housing Authority was ordered to use its "best efforts" to supply and submit as rapidly as possible to the City Council for approval sites for seventeen hundred and forty-six units of public housing. The first seven hundred of these were to be in the general or white areas, and of the balance of one thousand and forty-six, seven hundred and fifty were also to be in the general or white areas of the City. The court and the plaintiffs waited patiently to determine what the "best efforts" of Chicago Housing Authority would produce. Ten months later these "best efforts" had not resulted in any sites being presented to the City Council for approval.

Conferences were held from time to time between attorneys for the plaintiffs and Chicago Housing Authority and its counsel, and at one of these in the spring of 1970, the Chairman of Chicago Housing Authority advised the plaintiffs that they would submit no sites to the City Council until after the municipal elections, one year later in the spring of 1971. The court was informed of this statement and also that the "best efforts" of Chicago Housing Authority had resulted in no submissions to the City Council. It thus became apparent that the court could no longer rely on the "best efforts" of Chicago Housing Authority and a new decree was signed on July 1, 1970, which established a timetable as to when these sites were to be submitted. This decree Chicago Housing Authority decided to appeal, hoping that the appellate procedure would delay the performance of the timetable until after the municipal elections in the spring of 1971.

They went screaming and protesting, as they had a legal right to do, first to the Court of Appeals, and that Court sustained the July, 1970 decree, Guatreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, 7 Cir., 436 F.2d 306. Next, they went to the United States Supreme Court seeking to reverse the Court of Appeals, 7 Cir., 448 F.2d 731 and the highest Court in the land denied them the relief sought. 402 U.S. 922, 91 S.Ct. 1378, 28 L.Ed.2d 661. One final effort was made to the United States Supreme Court for a rehearing, seeking to have that Court reverse itself, which was denied. Having run the gamut, they returned to the District Court where prompt disclosure and submission was ordered. Only then did Chicago Housing Authority, with a gun to its head, comply, twenty months after the first decree and eight months after the second decree. Sites for seventeen hundred odd units were finally disgorged and submitted to the City Council for its approval.

After the municipal elections, the City sought from the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development 26 million dollars to finance its Model Cities Program for the period from June 15 to December 31, 1971. It is obvious from the evidence that the Regional Administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development was concerned with the City's failure to perform many of its ...


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