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The Power of Now
Monday, July 19, 2010
In June 2010, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a Preliminary Injunction against Louisiana to freeze surplus Road Home funds until the conclusion of litigation. Plaintiffs requested this so the surplus funds could be used to address the disparities in the program. If these funds are not preserved, Louisiana and HUD could reprogram the funds for other uses, making it impossible for injured homeowners to receive recalculated grants.
On Tuesday June 29, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy denied Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction; however, he acknowledged the racial discrimination in the Road Home formula. The District Court agreed that statistical and anecdotal evidence “leads to a strong inference” that African-Americans received awards that fell farther short of the cost of repairing their homes than did white recipients. The Court also noted that Louisiana “offered no legitimate reason for taking pre-storm home values into account in calculating […] awards.”
The Court held that it does not have power to order relief in this particular case in part because it believes the Road Home funds are state funds and not federal funds. The Plaintiffs maintain the Court could order appropriate relief. Plaintiffs dispute this narrow view of the Court’s authority to remedy this civil rights violation and believe that the funds are federal. The groups fear that all funds at issue could be reprogrammed before an appeal could resolve this question. On behalf of the Plaintiffs, LDF and co-counsel asks that Louisiana and HUD correct these violations of the Fair Housing Act and Housing and Community Development Act, and provide all homeowners in New Orleans with the resources they need to rebuild. Anything short of that will prevent African-American homeowners in New Orleans from rebuilding and reoccupying their homes.