Mhany Mgmt. Inc. v. Inc.

Citation985 F.Supp.2d 390
Decision Date06 December 2013
Docket NumberNo. 05–CV–2301 (ADS)(WDW).,05–CV–2301 (ADS)(WDW).
PartiesMHANY MANAGEMENT INC., Plaintiff, and New York Communities for Change, Inc., Intervenor–Plaintiff, v. INCORPORATED VILLAGE OF GARDEN CITY and Garden City Board of Trustees, Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)


Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington by Frederick K. Brewington, Esq., of Counsel, Hempstead, NY, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law By: Joseph D. Rich, Esq., Linda H. Mullenbach, Esq., Abigail E. Shafroth, Esq., of Counsel, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP by Stanley J. Brown, Esq., Peter J. Dennin, Esq., Chava Brandriss, Esq., Andrew J. Sein, Esq., Sarah J. Gregory, Esq., Benjamin A. Fleming, Esq., Of Counsel, New York, NY, for Plaintiff, MHANY Management Inc.

Cullen and Dykman, LLP by James G. Ryan, Esq., Ariel E. Ronneburger, Esq., Thomas B. Wassel, Esq., Cynthia Ann Augello, Esq., Douglas J. Bohn, Esq., Jennifer A. McLaughlin, Esq., of Counsel, Garden City, NY, for Defendants, Incorporated Village of Garden City and Garden City Board of Trustees.


SPATT, District Judge.

In 2005, several individual plaintiffs and organizations commenced a lawsuit against the County of Nassau, the Incorporated Village of Garden City (the “Village” or Garden City), and the Garden City Board of Trustees. Briefly, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants discriminatorily re-zoned two parcels of Nassau County-owned land that were located in Garden City to prevent the building of low-and middle-income housing on that site. The Plaintiffs further allege that this decision was part of a long-standing racially discriminatory policy maintained by the Defendants.Based on these allegations, the Plaintiffs assert claims pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; 42 U.S.C. § 1982; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. The Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief, costs, and attorneys' fees. In response, the Defendants deny any wrongdoing and assert that they have no racially discriminatory policies.

Currently, only the corporate Plaintiffs, MHANY Management, Inc. (MHANY), formerly known as New York ACORN Housing Company, Inc. (“NYAHC”) and the IntervenorPlaintiff New York Communities for Change, Inc. (NYCC), the practical successor to former Plaintiff, the New York Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (“New York ACORN”), remain as plaintiffs. Also, the case against the County of Nassau was dismissed by a summary judgment decision and thus only the Incorporated Village of Garden City and the Garden City Board of Trustees (the Garden City Defendants) remain as defendants.

The Court has jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3613 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 2201. The Court conducted an 11–day bench trial commencing on June 17, 2013. Having considered the evidence and the arguments submitted at the trial and the written submissions of the parties, the Court concludes that the Plaintiffs have established the liability of the Garden City Defendants under (1) the FHA based on a theory of disparate treatment and disparate impact; (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1981; (3) 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (4) the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This opinion will first state the Court's findings of fact which will essentially be a history of the events leading to the subject zoning decision of the Village of Garden City. Next, the Court will briefly review the complicated procedural history of this case. Finally, the opinion will close with this Court's conclusions of law and choice of remedies.

A. The Parties

MHANY is a not-for-profit community-based developer of affordable housing incorporated in New York and, at all times relevant to the allegations in the amended complaint was known as NYHAC. The former Plaintiff New York ACORN is a former local chapter of a nationwide nonprofit corporate entity that was called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now organized and existed under the State of Arkansas which disbanded in or about December 2009. NYCC is a non-profit entity formed in December 2009, and which intervened in this action on June 30, 2010.

The Village of Garden City is a municipal corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York. It is located in New York State in the County of Nassau. The Garden City Board of Trustees is an elected governing body in Garden City.

B. The Racial Makeup of Nassau County and Garden City

The Plaintiffs' expert Nancy McArdle, who conducted an analysis of racial change and segregation in Nassau County, testified that, as of the year 2000, the minority population share of the total population in Nassau County was 20.3%. McArdle defined minority as all persons identifying their ethnicity as Hispanic or African–American. The minority population in Garden City increased from 2.9% in 1980 to 4.1% in the year 2000.

C. The Affordable Housing in Nassau County

Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi testified that a lack of affordable housing has been a problem in Nassau County. (Tr. at 977–78.). The parties defined affordable housing as that which is financially attainable—namely, no more than 30% of a household's income is spent on housing—for households earning 80% or less of the Area Median Income for the Nassau–Suffolk Metropolitan Statistical Area. (Tr. at 493–94.)

In the year 2000, although only 14.8% of all households in Nassau County were African–American or Hispanic, 41.4% of “very low” income elderly renter households in the County were African–American and Hispanic, as were 53.1% of “very low” income non-elderly renter households. (Tr. at 148.) In 2000, African–American people comprised 88% of the waiting list in Nassau County for Section 8 housing. (Tr. at 164–65.) Section 8 housing refers to federally subsidized rental assistance paid to private landlords pursuant to Section 8 Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. § 1437f on behalf of low income renters.

D. The Racial Makeup of Garden City

As of the year 2000, Garden City had a population of 21,672 people. Garden City is 5.3 square miles in size. In 20112012, Garden City contained the following types and numbers of residential dwelling places: Single–Family homes, 6,845, Condominiums, 410, Apartments or Co-ops, 691. (Tr. at 67.)

McArdle testified that, as of the year 2000, the percentage of minority population in Garden City was 4.1 %, up from 2.9% in 1980. McArdle further noted that 61 % of the Village's African–American population was living in dormitories in 2000, and thus, excluding this population would significantly alter these statistics. If one examined only people living in households and not in dormitories in 2000, the minority population in Garden City was just 2.6% of the population, as opposed to the 4.1% stated above, and as compared to 15.3% of the County. (Tr. at 139.)

In 2000, 2.3% of the households in Garden City were headed by an African–American or Hispanic person, compared to 15.3% of the Nassau County households. (Tr. at 144–45.) If minorities comprised the same share of Garden City households as they did of Nassau County households, Garden City would have 1,333 African–American or Hispanic households, as opposed to the actual total of 167.

E. The Affordable Housing Options in Garden City

Village Administrator Robert Schoelle testified that, to his knowledge, Garden City, unlike other parts of Nassau County, contained no affordable housing, nor does it to this day. (Tr. at 494.) Garden City has declined to join the Nassau County Urban Consortium, a group of municipalities in Nassau County that are eligible to receive federal funding to support affordable housing development. (Tr. at 494.)

In May 2006, the County announced that it intended to sell a parcel of land, the Ring Road Site, located in Garden City for the purpose of developing affordable housing in Garden City and Nassau County. The County issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the purchase of the “Ring Road” site in Garden City. This was a mixed-use development which was characterized as “mixed income” and would have included affordably priced residential units. (Tr. at 1013.) However, Garden City residents expressed opposition to the construction of affordable housing in the community. To date, nothing has been built on the property. (Tr. at 658.)

F. Evidence of Discriminatory Acts in Garden City

The Village Administrator Schoelle testified that, in 1989, a developer proposed constructing fifty one units of affordable housing at the former Doubleday & Co. site on Franklin Avenue in Garden City. The Garden City Defendants deny having any record indicating that any such application has ever been filed. In any event, the Plaintiffs contend that a building moratorium in Garden City in the late 1980s prevented such construction. Recently, a luxury development was approved for the Doubleday site. (Tr. at 645.)

In February 2004, ACORN released a study entitled “Whites Only”—which involved “actual testing” by sending “Caucasian testers and sending African [-]American or Latino testers into real estate companies and documenting the results of how they were treated, what they were given, what they were told.” (Tr. at 1268–72.)

In 2005, the New York State Attorney General determined that Garden City enforced a local requirement limiting the use of its parks to Garden City residents in a racially discriminatory manner. In the wake of this investigation, Garden City adopted policies and procedures to ensure that local regulations were not enforced in a racially discriminatory manner.

G. The County's Real Estate Consolidation Plan

In May 2002, the County, under the leadership of then County Executive Suozzi, began drafting a Real Estate Consolidation Plan (the “Plan”). The purpose of the Plan was to identify what property the County needed to...

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