Freedom from discrimination in public housing

Davis v. New York City Housing Authority, 90 Civ. 628 (RWS) (S.D.N.Y.)

Nature of Claims: This class action challenges racial discrimination by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in the assignment and transfer of public housing applicants and tenants.

Background: In July 1992, the plaintiffs, NYCHA, and the United States Department of Justice entered into a Consent Decree certifying a plaintiff class and permanently prohibiting NYCHA from engaging in various forms of housing discrimination. In asking the court to approve the Decree, NYCHA admitted that it had engaged in practices “that had the effect of discriminating against Black and Hispanic applicants” and that “these policies were wrong.” See Davis v. New York City Housing Authority, 278 F.3d 64, 82 (2d Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 536 U.S. 904 (2002). The Consent Decree permanently prohibits NYCHA from:

  • adopting and implementing any tenant application, selection, assignment, transfer plan, or policy or process that gives preference to applicants or tenants on the basis of race, color, or national origin;
  • refusing to rent or otherwise making dwellings unavailable to applicants or persons requesting transfers because of race, color, or national origin;
  • making statements with respect to the rental of dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, or national origin;
  • representing to applicants or tenants that, because of race, color, or national origin, certain developments are not anticipating vacancies when such developments are, in fact, anticipating vacancies;

The Decree required NYCHA to adopt a new Tenant Selection and Assignment Plan (TSAP) and afforded relief for up to 2,190 victims of discrimination at 31 “Affected Developments.”

Current Status: In 2002, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an injunction prohibiting NYCHA from using a “Working Family Preference” (WFP) at 14 housing projects where discrimination occurred in the past. The court held that 20 housing projects had been segregated on the basis of race by past discriminatory practices, and that the WFP would cause significant delays in desegregation at 14 of those projects. The plaintiffs continue to monitor enforcement of the Consent Decree.

No. Persons Affected: Approximately 900 families of color who were denied admission at an Affected Development were permitted to transfer into one of those projects as a remedy for past discrimination. Approximately 8,000 families reside in one of the 14 housing projects where the WFP has been enjoined.

Reported Decisions: Davis v. New York City Hous. Auth., 1992 WL 420923 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 31, 1992); Davis v. New York City Hous. Auth., 839 F. Supp. 215 (S.D.N.Y. 1993); Davis v. New York City Housing Auth., 940 F. Supp. 80 (S.D.N.Y. 1996); Davis v. New York City Hous. Auth., 1997 WL 407250 (S.D.N.Y. July 18, 1997); Davis v. New York City Housing Auth., 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18111 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 13, 1977); Davis v. New York City Housing Auth., 166 F.3d 432 (2d Cir. 1999); Davis v. New York City Housing Auth., 60 F. Supp. 2d 220 (S.D.N.Y. 1999); Davis v. New York City Housing Auth., 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 2746 (2d Cir. Feb. 23, 2000); Davis v. New York City Housing Auth., 103 F. Supp. 2d 228 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); Davis v. New York City Housing Auth., 278 F.3d 64 (2d Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 536 U.S. 904 (2002); Davis v. New York City Hous. Auth., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23738 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 11, 2002).