From our friends at the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center:
Joint Statement from Plaintiffs and Counsel on Recent Decision in Road Home Case:
Today a federal court of appeals issued a ruling explaining its decision to set aside preliminary injunctions previously granted against the State of Louisiana regarding its administration of the Road Home program. The preliminary injunctions were granted at the request of two fair housing groups and African American homeowners in New Orleans who filed suit on behalf of families displaced in the wake of hurricanes Rita and Katrina.
The plaintiffs have argued that the formula used to award grants under the Road Home program - under which African-Americans were more likely than whites to receive grants based on pre-storm home values rather than the cost of repair - was discriminatory. Therefore, we requested and received temporary relief from the court to prevent the discriminatory effects of the formula from harming more families. Today's decision states that we have not yet provided enough evidence to convince this court that we would ultimately prevail. However, the decision sends the case back to the lower court and gives plaintiffs the opportunity to seek additional evidence to prove their case. Thus, the case is not over and we will continue to pursue relief for the thousands of families affected. We are pleased to hear that state officials share our commitment to reaching a resolution that benefits families without the need for further litigation. And we pledge to continue working with state and federal officials toward that end.
The Road Home case, styled as Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center v. HUD, alleges that the formula used to allocate grants to homeowners has a discriminatory impact on African-American homeowners. Program data show that African-Americans are more likely than whites to have their Road Home grants based upon the pre-storm market value of their homes, rather than the estimated cost to repair damage.
The Plaintiffs in this case are five African-American homeowners in New Orleans representing a potential class of thousands of African-American homeowners and two fair housing organizations, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and the National Fair Housing Alliance. Plaintiffs are represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, the National Fair Housing Alliance and Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr.