Joy v. Daniels, No. 72-2479.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCRAVEN, BUTZNER and RUSSELL, Circuit
Citation479 F.2d 1236
PartiesThelma JOY, Individually and on Behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellant, v. Holland DANIELS, Chairman, et al., Appellees.
Decision Date11 June 1973
Docket NumberNo. 72-2479.

479 F.2d 1236 (1973)

Thelma JOY, Individually and on Behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellant,
v.
Holland DANIELS, Chairman, et al., Appellees.

No. 72-2479.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Submitted March 27, 1973.

Decided June 11, 1973.


479 F.2d 1237

Frank Epstein, Charleston, S. C., on brief for appellant.

No counsel for the appellees.

Before CRAVEN, BUTZNER and RUSSELL, Circuit Judges.

CRAVEN, Circuit Judge:

By this action for declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff challenges, as violative of the fifth and fourteenth amendments, her threatened eviction from the Joseph Paul Apartments. The apartments are quasi-public, having been constructed and now being operated by defendant, Joseph Paul Apartments, Inc., under Section 221(d)(3) of the National Housing Act. The district court held that the plaintiff could properly be evicted since her tenancy had expired under the terms of the lease, and that no other cause need be assigned for the eviction. We reverse.

I.

The plaintiff, Thelma Joy, is the head of her household and with her four minor children constitutes a "family" within the statutory scheme. Her effective monthly income1 of $222.20 is a "low income" for purposes of the federal housing programs, and she thus qualifies for occupancy in the Joseph Paul Apartments.

479 F.2d 1238
On September 2, 1970, plaintiff leased one of defendant's apartments. The standard form lease provided in relevant part
At the end of one year, lease is automatically renewed from month to month, rent to be payable in advance without demand on first day of each month. Either party may terminate lease at end of term or any successive term by giving 30 days\' notice in advance to other party.

On September 11, 1971, the defendant gave plaintiff 30 days' notice to vacate, no cause being assigned.2 It appears that the plaintiff has continued to occupy her apartment on a month-to-month basis, with her tenancy dependent on the outcome of this litigation.

Section 221(d)(3) of the National Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1715l(d) (3) (1971), is a statutory scheme for encouraging housing for low income families. To participate in this program, defendant was required to conform to a regulatory agreement with the Federal Housing Administration governing, inter alia, the construction, occupancy, and daily operations of the project. The FHA also grants defendant rent supplements for the plaintiff and other tenants under Section 101 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965, 12 U.S.C. § 1701s(b) (1971). Plaintiff, for example, enjoys occupancy of an apartment worth $157.00 per month at a cost to her of $48.00. FHA pays the difference, i.e., $109.00 per month, directly to defendant. As a prerequisite to participation in the rent supplement program, there must be local government approval. 24 C.F.R. § 5.15(c) (1971). The County Council specifically approved rent supplements for Joseph Paul Apartments on August 6, 1968.

II.

Initially we must determine if the fourteenth amendment is applicable, i.e., whether the action of defendant in seeking to evict plaintiff can be said to be "state action" since it is well settled the fourteenth amendment does not inhibit the conduct of purely private persons in their ordinary activities. Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 169, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). The Supreme Court has never attempted to fashion a precise formula of what constitutes "state action" and the question frequently is difficult to determine. Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis, 407 U.S. 163, 172, 92 S.Ct. 1965, 32 L.Ed.2d 627 (1972); Burton v. Wilmington Parking Auth., 365 U.S. 715, 722, 81 S.Ct. 856, 6 L.Ed.2d 45 (1961). "State action" may result from administrative, regulatory, legislative, and judicial action. Moose Lodge No. 107, 407 U.S. at 179, 92 S.Ct. 1965. The determination must be made on a case-by-case basis. "Only by sifting facts and weighing circumstances can the nonobvious involvement of the State in private conduct be attributed its true significance." Burton, 365 U.S. at 722, 81 S. Ct. at 860.

In the present case the defendant receives mortgage benefits from the FHA and is thus subject to the attendant FHA regulations.3 Additionally, the defendant has undertaken to utilize the eviction procedures authorized by South Carolina.4 While these factors,

479 F.2d 1239
either separately or combined, have been held insufficient to constitute "state action" they are relevant and material in the assessment of other evidence of state involvement.5

The defendant receives rent supplements from the FHA. Prerequisite to obtaining these supplements, the defendant received specific authorization from the County Council. We view this involvement of the state (power delegated to local government) in this case as similar to the zoning power which, with state eviction proceedings, resulted in a holding of "state action" in Lavoie v. Bigwood, 457 F.2d 7 (1st Cir. 1972).5a

The participation of the federal government in such housing projects is conditioned upon state approval. The state is thus involved for there would otherwise be no federal direct funding through rent subsidies and indirect funding through mortgage benefits. We think that these factors coupled with utilization of state eviction procedure have "so far insinuated the state into a position of interdependence" with the defendant that the challenged activity "cannot be considered to have been so `purely private' as to fall without the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment." Burton, 365 U.S. at 725, 81 S.Ct. at 862. See McQueen v. Druker, 438 F.2d 781, 784 (1st Cir. 1971). Accordingly, we hold there is sufficient state involvement to constitute "state action" for purposes of the fourteenth amendment. We also hold that the facts are sufficient to satisfy the "under color of" law clause of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Adickes, 398 U.S. at 161-172, 90 S.Ct. 1598; Lavoie, 457 F.2d at 15; McQueen v. Druker, 317 F.Supp. 1122, 1133 (D.Mass.) (Wyzanski, C. J.), aff'd in part, 438 F. 2d 781 (1st Cir. 1971). Accordingly, the district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3).6

III.

The district court concluded that plaintiff had no right of occupancy upon expiration of the term of the lease. Plaintiff contends that despite expiration of the term she may be evicted only for "good cause" and is entitled to the protection of procedural due process in the determination of whether cause exists. Since procedural due process applies only to the deprivation of interest protected by the fourteenth amendment, i.e., liberty and property, we must first determine plaintiff's substantive rights. See Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 569, 92 S.Ct. 2701, 33 L.Ed.2d 548 (1972); McQueen, 317 F.Supp. at 1128.

As stated in Board of Regents v. Roth:

Certain attributes of `property\' interests protected by procedural due process emerge from the Court\'s decisions. To have a property interest in a benefit, a person clearly must have more than an abstract need or desire for it. He must have more than a unilateral expectation of it. He must, instead, have a legitimate claim of entitlement to it. It is a purpose of the ancient institution of property to protect those claims upon which people rely in their daily lives, reliance that must not be arbitrarily undermined. It is a purpose of the constitutional right to a hearing to provide an opportunity for a person to vindicate those claims.
479 F.2d 1240
Property interests, of course, are not created by the Constitution.7 Rather, they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law — rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits.

408 U.S. at 577, 92 S.Ct. at 2709.

A person\'s interest in a benefit is a `property\' interest for due process purposes if there are such rules or mutually explicit understandings that support his claim of entitlement to the benefit and that he may invoke at a hearing.

Perry v. Sinderman, 408 U.S. 593, 601, 92 S.Ct. 2694, 2699, 33 L.Ed.2d 570 (1972). Thus we must now look to applicable statutes, governmental regulations, and the custom and understandings of public landlords in the operation of their apartments to determine if a public tenant has a "property interest" in a tenancy beyond the term of the lease except for cause.8

When Congress legislated with regard to mortgage insurance benefits which defendant receives, it provided: "The Congress affirms the national goal, as set forth in section 1441 of Title 42, of `a decent home and suitable living environment for every American family'." 12 U.S.C. § 1701t. This policy of improving the "living environment of urban areas" was also the policy of Congress in enacting the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965. Pub.L. 89-117, 79 Stat. 451 (Aug. 10, 1965). "This policy includes adequate, safe, and sanitary quarters. But it also implies an atmosphere of stability, security, neighborliness, and social justice." McQueen, 317 F.Supp. at 1130. Cf., Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed. 2d 415 (1972).

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88 practice notes
  • Roberts v. Cameron-Brown Co., Civ. A. No. 174-62.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • 4 Febrero 1975
    ...under the National Housing Act, no state or local agency is involved in any way in the 235 subsidy program. E. g., Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236 (4th Cir. 1973) (receipt of authorization from County Council was a pre-requisite to receiving FHA rent supplements); Anderson v. Denny, 365 F.Sup......
  • Holbrook v. Pitt, No. 80-1006
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 2 Julio 1981
    ...has clearly been met here. See Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345, 95 S.Ct. 449, 42 L.Ed.2d 477 (1974); Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236, 1238 (4th Cir. 1973). Second, the asserted interest must be shown to be a "liberty" or a "property" interest to which there is a claim of enti......
  • Adams v. Southern California First National Bank, No. 72-1484
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 12 Marzo 1974
    ...of the State of Texas. The landlord clearly had invoked state procedures in order to seize the tenant's property. Cf. Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236 (4th Cir. 1973). In Hampton, the creditor was seizing property that had been entirely his and that, practically and according to the terms of t......
  • Johnson v. County of Chester, Civ. A. No. 75-3702.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • 26 Mayo 1976
    ...approved for the three year period. For Willistown Township, that sum is $27,000. During oral argument, plaintiffs cited Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236, 1239 n. 6 (4th Cir. 1973), as support for that Joy involved an action in which a tenant sought to challenge her threatened eviction by a la......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
88 cases
  • Roberts v. Cameron-Brown Co., Civ. A. No. 174-62.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • 4 Febrero 1975
    ...under the National Housing Act, no state or local agency is involved in any way in the 235 subsidy program. E. g., Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236 (4th Cir. 1973) (receipt of authorization from County Council was a pre-requisite to receiving FHA rent supplements); Anderson v. Denny, 365 F.Sup......
  • Holbrook v. Pitt, No. 80-1006
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 2 Julio 1981
    ...has clearly been met here. See Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345, 95 S.Ct. 449, 42 L.Ed.2d 477 (1974); Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236, 1238 (4th Cir. 1973). Second, the asserted interest must be shown to be a "liberty" or a "property" interest to which there is a claim of enti......
  • Adams v. Southern California First National Bank, No. 72-1484
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 12 Marzo 1974
    ...of the State of Texas. The landlord clearly had invoked state procedures in order to seize the tenant's property. Cf. Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236 (4th Cir. 1973). In Hampton, the creditor was seizing property that had been entirely his and that, practically and according to the terms of t......
  • Johnson v. County of Chester, Civ. A. No. 75-3702.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • 26 Mayo 1976
    ...approved for the three year period. For Willistown Township, that sum is $27,000. During oral argument, plaintiffs cited Joy v. Daniels, 479 F.2d 1236, 1239 n. 6 (4th Cir. 1973), as support for that Joy involved an action in which a tenant sought to challenge her threatened eviction by a la......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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