The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments in Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, which centers on whether disparate impact claims can be brought under the Fair Housing Act. The parties agreed to settle the suit earlier this month.
As previously discussed on this Government & Law Blog, the case revolved around the Township of Mount Holly’s plan to redevelop a blighted residential area known as the Gardens. The plan called for demolishing the neighborhood and building new, significantly more expensive housing units. Many Mount Holly residents objected to the redevelopment, arguing that they would no longer to be able to afford to live in the township.
They ultimately filed suit, alleging that the plan to build solely market-rate housing violated a provision of the Fair Housing Act that makes it unlawful “[t]o refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer . . . or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” The key question before the Court was whether the statute allows claims based on disparate impact, where policies or practices are not overtly discriminatory, but still have a discriminatory effect on a certain protected classes of people.
The question will now remain unanswered. Under the terms of the settlement, Mount Holly will provide new homes to the displaced residents who filed suit or pay fair market value for their homes. The 544-unit development will contain 44 affordable-housing units, while the remaining will be market-rate units. The agreement also calls for the construction to be completed within six years.
For more information about this case or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.