The Times Picayune reported that Judge Lemelle of the Eastern District of Louisiana refused to dismiss a class action suit against the Housing Authority of New Orleans ("HANO") and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In writing the February 8, 2008 opinion, Judge Lemelle found that demolishing the public housing units -- which plaintiffs contend require only minimal repairs -- violates "parts of the Fair Housing Act and the U.S. Housing Act that protect renters from unfair eviction."
The decision does not, however, prevent HANO from moving forward with the demolition of the complexes. The court also rejected arguments based on international law alleging human rights violations, as well as a allegations of racial discrimination. To the latter point, Judge Lemelle held that "it appears that plaintiffs' efforts to return to developments that were populated entirely with African-Americans pre-Katrina may actually perpetuate segregation more so than HANO's plans for demolitions and redevelopment . . . ."
A copy of the complaint is available here. Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction is available here, and the court's denial of the motion is here. Justice for New Orleans, run by the Loyola Law Clinic, posted the above documents on their website.
* Photo of abandoned St. Bernard public housing project, courtesy of Flikr. Cross-posted at ULJ.