Relman Colfax represented the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and Provident Realty Advisors, Inc. in opposing St. Bernard Parish’s continuing efforts to block affordable, multi-family housing in the Parish. Provident, a private developer, sought to build four multi-family, mixed-income developments in St. Bernard Parish. The Parish then passed a moratorium in September 2008 to ban all multi-family housing of five or more units.
On March 25, 2009, the Court found that St. Bernard Parish violated the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws by passing a moratorium in September 2008 on the construction of multi-family housing. The Court concluded that the 2008 multi-family moratorium violated both the Fair Housing Act and a Consent Order that the Parish had entered into to settle an earlier challenge to several restrictive ordinances passed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, including a nearly identical multi-family moratorium in 2005, and a "blood relative" ordinance that the Parish enacted in 2006. The blood relative ordinance restricted the rental of single-family residences in St. Bernard Parish to those related by blood to the owner of the property. The challenge to those ordinances was resolved, and the blood relative ordinance was rescinded, after the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center filed suit in federal court and a Consent Order was entered on February 27, 2008. The Court retained jurisdiction over enforcement of the Consent Order for three years from the entry of the Order.
After three evidentiary hearings in less than one year, the Court found that the Parish acted with racially discriminatory intent and that its actions had a discriminatory effect on African Americans. The Court also found the Parish in contempt of court three times. As a result of this litigation, Provident received its building permits on October 1, 2009 and can now begin construction on its affordable, multi-family housing apartments in St. Bernard Parish.
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center v. St. Bernard Parish, No. 2:06-cv-07185-HGB-SS (E.D. La.)