New Orleans Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

Earlier this week, the Justice Department announced court approval of its settlement with the city of New Orleans regarding a housing discrimination lawsuit.

Under the settlement, the city agreed to permit the conversion of a former nursing home into 40 units of affordable housing. Half the units in the new complex will be designated as permanent supportive housing and will be reserved for formerly homeless persons with disabilities. In addition, the settlement commits the city to developing additional supportive housing for 350 persons with disabilities over the next three years.

“We are very pleased to have worked constructively with New Orleans to reach an agreement that will not only enable the Esplanade to be built, but that will also provide additional permanent supportive housing for 350 persons with disabilities in New Orleans,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, in a statement.

“Nondiscriminatory housing is a fundamental right of the citizens of New Orleans, and this settlement agreement continues the efforts to rebuild and improve a housing inventory ravaged by Hurricane Katrina,” added Kenneth Allen Polite Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “I applaud the cooperative efforts of the city and the department to reach a resolution that is in the best interests of persons with disabilities, who are amongst the most vulnerable members of our community.”

In addition to the development of 350 additional permanent supportive housing units, the settlement requires that the city agree to provide all appropriate permits for the project, amend its zoning ordinance to allow permanent supportive housing, continue its work to prepare and implement a reasonable accommodation policy approved by the United States, conduct fair housing training for key city officials, and be subject to reporting requirements.

The State Bond Commission, which was also named as a defendant, is not a party to the settlement. In March 2014, the Bond Commission voted not to approve a settlement, so the Justice Department has asked the court to reopen the litigation against the Bond Commission. A status conference is scheduled for June 2014.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice