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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
(November 12, 2008) Today the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund as part of a coalition of Civil Rights and Fair Housing groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and the Louisiana Recovery Authority. The suit alleges that the Road Home,
The Road Home, an $11 billion federally-funded program, is the largest housing redevelopment program in
"African American homeowners in
HUD is responsible for overseeing
"HUD has the duty, authority, and ability to make sure
The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Washington D.C. plaintiff's law firm, Cohen Milstein and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.
"Forty years after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, residential segregation still permeates
According to Cohen Milstein's Joseph M. Sellers, head of the firm's Civil Rights and Employment Practice, "HUD and Louisiana have perpetrated a cruel hoax on African American victims of the Katrina and Rita hurricanes by offering assistance that Congress intended would permit them to rebuild their destroyed homes but which falls far short of its noble promise by linking it to the depressed values of their pre-storm segregated housing rather than to the cost of reconstruction."
The discrimination, in this case, is the result of the formula used to determine Road Home grants. Grant awards are based on the lower of two-values: the pre-storm value of the home, or the cost of damage. Home values in predominantly African-American neighborhoods are lower than the values of similar homes in white neighborhoods. As a result, the grants for African-American homeowners are more likely to be based upon the pre-storm value of their homes, leaving them without enough money to rebuild. In contrast, white homeowners are more likely to receive grants based on the actual cost of repairs. The lawsuit filed today seeks to eliminate this disparity.