Discrimination, Low-Rent housing, HUD, Low Income Blacks, National Housing Act, federal assistance


The constitutionality of certain sections of the National Housing Act that required a community to consent to the construction of federally assisted low income housing was challenged. The plaintiffs alleged that the consent requirement gave white suburbs the power to bar this construction resulting in limited low incoming housing offered in predominantly black areas. Plaintiffs proposed that a new agreement between the City of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority be reached that would better reflect low income housing needs. At trial, the court rejected the plaintiff's contentions and on remand, the court held that absent a rational basis, suburbs which failed to enter into cooperation agreements were violating the constitution. Unless objections were constitutionally permissible, the court had no alternative but to conclude that the objections were racially motivated and appropriate judicial action would be undertaken. Courts have held that when a statute has a racially discriminatory effect, the courts are to distinguish between racial motivation and legitimate nonracial concerns. Additionally, although a statute is neutral on its face, if it results in housing discrimination then it violates the fourteenth amendment unless it can be justified on reasonable non racial grounds. The court in this case concluded that unless the suburban cities' objections to the CMHA housing plan are "constitutionally permissible and meet the compelling interest test, there will be no alternative but to conclude that the suburb's failure to sign a Cooperation Agreement is for a constitutionally impermissible reasons." This decision supports the proposition that if a statute, neutral on its face, is manipulated in a discriminatory manner it may violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment.

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