Garrett v. City of Hamtramck

Decision Date26 September 1974
Docket Number73-1863,Nos. 73-1862,s. 73-1862
Citation503 F.2d 1236
PartiesSarah Sims GARRETT et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. CITY OF HAMTRAMCK, a municipal corporation, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit

Anthony J. Steinmeyer, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for federal defendants-appellants- ; Ralph B. Guy, Jr., U.S. Atty., Detroit, Mich., Irving Jaffe, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert E. Kopp, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., on brief.

Thomas C. Mayer, Mayer & Mayer, Detroit, Mich., for municipal defendants-appellants; Edmund E. Torcellini City Atty., City of Hamtramck, James F. Nowicki, Asst. City Atty., Hamtramck, Mich., on brief.

John M. Ferren, Hogan & Hartson, Washington, D.C., for plaintiffs-appellees; Allen R. Snyder, Hogan & Hartson, Washington, D.C., Michael J. Barnhart, Center of Urban Law and Housing, Detroit, Mich., on brief.

Before LIVELY and ENGEL, Circuit Judges, and CECIL, Senior Circuit Judge.

LIVELY, Circuit Judge.

This civil rights action is concerned with the urban renewal activities of the City of Hamtramck, Michigan, which is surrounded by the City of Detroit on three sides and the City of Highland Park on the fourth, and contains slightly more than two square miles of area. It is located in a highly industrialized area with a population largely of Polish extraction. The non-white population of the City never exceeded 15 percent during the period involved in this litigation and this percentage decreased between 1960 and the trial of this action. Most of the Negro residents of Hamtramck have lived in several areas of concentration near the boundaries of the City, although some Negroes have lived at various other places throughout the City. The schools have been integrated at all times.

When the City of Hamtramck determined to undertake urban renewal, it obtained federal financing through the predecessor of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which partially paid for a study and the development of a master plan. In 1959 the Vilican-Lehman (V-L) report was received by the City and adopted as its master plan of urban renewal. At this time the population of Hamtramck was approximately 37,000 and one of the basic recommendations of the V-L report was that the City engage in a planned program of population loss. By 1970 the population of Hamtramck had declined to approximately 26,400.

The first urban renewal program undertaken by the City after adoption of the master plan is referred to as the Smith-Clay Project which affected an area in the southwestern corner of the City. This was an industrialization project and involved the clearance of residences in 1962 and 1963. The program was 'closed out' by HUD in 1965. A Chrysler Corporation plant has expanded into this area, replacing a blighted residential neighborhood. In about 1966 a portion of Interstate Highway 75, referred to locally as the Chrysler Expressway, was constructed on a diagonal course through the northwest corner of Hamtramck. This location for the expressway was recommended by the V-L report and the State of Michigan agreed, although two other locations had first been recommended by federal and state highway authorities. The placement of the expressway at its present location resulted in the clearance during the early 1960's of a large number of sub-standard houses from that portion of the City. It is undenied that both white and Negro residents were displaced by these two projects, with a majority of those being displaced, at least in the Smith-Clay area, being Negro.

In the mid 1960's two other industrialization projects were announced by the City. One of these is referred to as Denton-Miller and the other as Grand Haven. Denton-Miller is located in the southeast portion of the City near the Smith-Clay area, and Grand Haven consists of the area in the extreme northwest corner of the City which was cut off from the rest of the City by construction of the Chrysler Expressway. Clearance for these projects has not yet begun, though property owners in the areas have been advised that urban renewal is scheduled and it has been recommended that they not improve their property. At the time of the district court proceedings, HUD had neither approved nor provided financing for either Denton-Miller or Grand Haven.

In 1965 the City undertook its only urban renewal project which would result in a renewed residential area. This is known as the Wyandotte Project and originally covered 10 acres in the south central portion of the City. By amendments this project has been changed so that, as finally approved, it involves the renewal of 40 acres rather than 10. Clearance for this project was begun in 1965 and the first structures which were removed were occupied by Negroes. Many white as well as Negro residents are affected by the amended project. The failure of the amended Wyandotte plans to provide suitable replacement housing to ease the shortage of available residences for low and moderate income families affected by urban renewal led to complaints which were directed first to the City and later to HUD. On April 24, 1967 a detailed complaint was sent to HUD on behalf of the South End Improvement Association (SEIA) and other persons affected by urban renewal in Hamtramck. The complaint was made 'with particular respect to the pending proposal for the amended Wyandotte Area Renewal Project (Mich.R-31).' SEIA was identified as an unincorporated association composed of residents of the Denton-Miller area. It was pointed out that the plans announced for the Denton-Miller area would result in removal of residential units and their replacement with a new school site and an area for industrial expansion. The letter asserted that SEIA 'seeks to have the Wyandotte Proposal amended so as to include the construction of a substantial amount of low and middle income housing which will ease the housing shortage for low and moderate income families affected by urban renewal.' It also charged that there had been a lack of compliance with federal and Michigan law in the matter of building low and moderate cost housing in the Wyandotte Project and pointed out that there was not adequate standard housing in Hamtramck to relocate persons 'to be displaced' by urban renewal. There followed a recitation of experiences of former residents of the Wyandotte area who had been displaced by the project and who had failed to receive assistance from the City in finding new housing. Concern was expressed that urban renewal as carried out by the City of Hamtramck had become a program of 'Negro removal.' It was stated that the overall effect of urban renewal had been and would be to achieve widespread Negro removal unless low-cost housing were planned for the Wyandotte Project and elsewhere to mitigate such a trend. Approval by HUD of the amended Wyandotte plan after investigation of this administrative complaint led to the filing of the present action.

The complaint, which was filed in the district court on November 20, 1968, contains five counts. The plaintiffs are SEIA and four individuals who were displaced by the original Wyandotte Project. The complaint seeks redress for denial of rights guaranteed by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and various civil rights laws and statutes of the United States and the State of Michigan pertaining to housing. It asserts that the plaintiffs are proceeding in a class action pursuant to Rule 23(a) and (b) (2), Fed.R. Civ.P., on behalf of the plaintiffs and others similarly situated. It is stated that SEIA represents a class composed of its members and all other Negroes living in areas affected by future urban renewal projects in the City of Hamtramck and that the four individual plaintiffs represent a class composed of Negroes who have been affected by urban renewal projects which have already been carried out by the City. It is alleged that the plaintiffs and those whom they represent will suffer irreparable injury if the City is not required to build substantial amounts of low and moderate priced public housing in the amended Wyandotte area. The complaint charges that the City has arbitrarily and capriciously refused to provide such housing and that this has resulted in the denial to the plaintiffs and the classes they represent of due process and equal protection of the laws.

Count I of the complaint seeks redress for denial of rights guaranteed by 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1982 and 1983. Count II seeks redress under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000d. In Count II it is alleged that the administrative complaint which was made to HUD, and its investigation of the complaint, disclosed to that agency much evidence in support of the claim that the City of Hamtramck was engaged in 'Negro removal' and had failed to provide for the needs of the persons displaced by the City's urban renewal program. Count III refers to the Housing Act of 1949 and specifically the requirement of 42 U.S.C. 1455(c) that the City provide decent, safe, sanitary dwelling for persons displaced or to be displaced from an urban renewal area and to provide a substantial number of units of standard housing in low and moderate cost ranges to serve the poor and disadvantaged of the City. It is alleged that the City has no meaningful plan of relocation for these persons. Counts IV and V seek enforcement of certain Michigan statutes related to urban renewal and housing and the court is requested to consider these counts under its pendent jurisdiction.

The prayer for relief in each of the five counts is for a declaratory judgment holding that the overall scheme of urban renewal of the City of Hamtramck violates rights guaranteed to the plaintiffs and those whom they represent and an injunction from proceeding further with urban renewal projects, particularly the amended Wyandotte Project...

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