Relman Colfax filed a lawsuit in federal court with co-counsel Smith & Fawer, LLC against the City of New Orleans, Louisiana on behalf of Stanton Square, LLC, a housing developer. The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants delayed, prevented, and otherwise interfered with Plaintiff’s attempts to construct The Village at English Turn, a multi-family affordable housing apartment complex for working and middle-class individuals and families in the City of New Orleans.

As alleged in the complaint, New Orleans has a profound lack of quality, affordable housing for working and middle-class citizens. The Village, if built, would help alleviate the need for affordable housing, particularly among African Americans, Hispanics, and families with children. Areas like Lower Coast Algiers, where the Village was set to be built, have been deemed by the City as “high opportunity” areas where it is “highly important that zoning laws assist private development of affordable housing to address the overwhelming need.” 

The complaint alleges that, despite the property at issue being zoned for this purpose, the City Council placed an immediate moratorium on the issuance of permits for multi-family housing and commercial development on Stanton Square’s property. The complaint challenges the moratorium and the process by which it was enacted. The complaint also alleges that the City Council’s action was influenced by a discriminatory campaign from the English Turn Property Owners’ Association and other groups, and that the robust campaign to influence the City Council included coded discriminatory language and negative stereotypes about minorities and lower-income families with children.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the complaint alleges that the City Council’s actions have unlawfully discriminated against potential residents on the basis of race and familial status; have a disparate impact on the basis of race and familial status; and perpetuate segregation in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The Relman Colfax litigation team consists of Yiyang Wu, David DePriest, with paralegal assistance from Max Niles. Our co-counsel are Randall A. Smith and Reagan R. Wilty of Smith & Fawer, LLC, based in New Orleans.

The complaint may be found here.

DOJ Statement of Interest

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