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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saint Paul Fair Housing Lawsuits/ HUD - The Empire Strikes Back

HUD's Preemptive Attack
It is rare, indeed, when a federal agency, such as HUD, seems to be issuing its position on a matter that is currently before the U. S. Supreme Court. But that is what appears to be happening. The case is Gallagher v. Magner, and on November 7, 2011, the Supremes granted a petition to review the Eighth Circuit's decision reversing summary judgment in the defendants' favor. Yet HUD is not filing an amicus curiae, the normative response expected by a federal agency, it is actually publishing its standards now - after the Supreme Court has decided to review the case.

To say HUD's tactic is unusual, is a considerable understatement!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, Bob, Bob....

Don't just read the opinion of the "Lenders compliance group" go all of the way to the end and actually read the proposed rules.$282011.11.16$29.pdf

That is the proposed rule from HUD concerning the Fair Housing Act and what you will see in the examples of what would be "Disparate Impact" are things like zoning restrictions on certain types of building, restrictions on the locations of public housing, regulations that would increase segregation.

No support for stopping cities from enforcing the housing code. If this is HUD tipping its hand its telling the Supreme Court that they agree enforcing the housing code is designed to protect tenents and reduce segregation and to support the City of Saint Paul.


Chuck Repke

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that using credit checks and criminal record checks for tenant screening creates a disparate impact.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous HudFunds sec 202 RentSubsidy said...

Chuckie the only time I agree with you is the Rank Voting, Thune and Bostrom will be gone in 4 years
Isn't it Strange tat Sharon as a Senior the City is kicking out the Seniors etc. Downtown re: MN Bldg is Section 8 Housing. Where are the Seniors Tenants coming from

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday announced $47 million for affordable housing efforts in Minnesota, including an $8 million 50-unit Episcopal Homes senior housing project in St. Paul.

HUD's Section 202 program will provide Episcopal Homes with $7.3 million in capital funds and $609,000 for three years of rental subsidy.

The 50 supportive housing apartments will be targeted to very low-income seniors and will be built near the existing Episcopal Homes campus on University Avenue, along the future route of the Central Corridor light-rail line.

- Frederick Melo

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:01 AM you are NOT Frederick Melo, but Sharon Anderson. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ..........

6:47 PM  
Blogger Sharon 4Anderson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you folks really want to get a feel for how the Supreme Court is going to rule in this case, one need only see that in " Villiage of Arlington Heights vs. MHDC ",
the U.S. Supreme Courts decision in the 7th Circuit clearly supported the MHDC and at least one black individual that claimed discrimination of the FHA based on a discriminatory refusal of the city to re-zone property to build family low income housing. In my opinion, the Supreme Court has already decided this matter even if there is a circuit split, this 7th circuit decision says it all.

Jeff Matiatos

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Google 429 U.S. 252

Jeff Matiatos

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, the Arlington Heights case was already mentioned in the District Courts ( Federal ) Order. But I must say that it is one that the Supreme Court will rely on most heavily in deciding this case in favor of the landlords for final disposition in the lower courts for trial. Good reading Chuck : )

Jeff Matiatos

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, enforcing a housing code to make sure that properties are safe isn't at all the same as a restricted zoning code. First, rental and ownership property are both inspected, there are plenty of owner occupied properties that have gotten the same violations, and second enforcing the code on rental property protects the tenants to make sure that the building they are in are up to code. Other cities have licensing of rental properties which would be more directed than Saint Paul's complaint based code enforsement.


Chuck Repke

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does it protect the tenants Chuck when the inspectors faricate violations that do not exist?

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, we are talking about disparate impact. The court has already dismissed every charge against the City that they made up false reports, or that they pick on particular people or that there was a plan to displace people or any of the other made up charges.

What is left is just what I said the Court is looking at if the City has nothing but good intentions and wants to make sure that people live in safe housing, and if those inspections mean that more people of color lose their housing should the court order the City to stop inspecting housing?

That's the question folks. All of the rest of it is gone, garbage deleted.

If the Supreme's say that disparate impact, which is not mentioned in the FHA law but has been taken as a Federal discrimination standard, should be allowed to be considered in FHA cases, all this means is that the case goes to trial and what will be at issue is... did more minorities get displaced? ...did the City attempt to assist them? ...did their new housing cost more? ...and if there were damages to those minority members, what can be done to assist them and how can code enforcement proceed?

I don't think that the court will determine that the FHA is in play when the City is deemed to be inspecting properties for safety issues, as to impact. My point is if any of the charges about targeting this person or another were true, you have "treatment" issues and would win those cases. That is different than when you are legitimately trying to improve the living conditions and those forced to live in bad housing are more likely minorities.


Chuck Repke

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on now Chuck. The city of St.Paul and Minneapolis are well aware of the demographic make up of it's population base as far as race and nationality are concerned. I find it hard to believe otherwise, that St.Paul has a hidden agenda in it's code enforcement policies to rid certain sectors of the communities of it's poorer minority population base through arbitrary and malicious enforcement of the code, attacking the landlords who would rent to them. According to one statement by St.Paul Fire inspector who stated " I don't know why you rent to these people " referring to people of color.

My following of the facts and discovery of this case leads me to believe that the lower courts were wrong in dismissing the charges of corruption by specific mentioned DSI employees and considering the statements and allegations by certain participants on this blog that were bullied into selling their properties under threats of jail and condemnation of their homes.

( Nancy Osterman ring a bell ? )

So, what we have left are claims that Landlords were damaged because
the cities policies had driven out the minorities through what was known as " problem properties " 2000 that targeted landlords in a way that drove them out.

The cities enforcement tactics held landlords to a " white glove standard " that caused landlords exorbitant renovations that drove them out of business. Yet PHA had severe problems and were not held to the same standard.

What we are going to learn at trial is where these certain DSI inspectors, Fire inspectors and various city defendants and witnesses will be hammered on the stand about statements they made referring to blacks and minorities that will prove that the city was partially motivated to rid the housing base of low income unwanted minorities.

Jeff Matiatos

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Maybe your friend Dave Thune could suggest a citizen's review board for DSI and Fire.

Since there have been so many complaints, and when they are handled by Bob Humphries, they get swept under the rug, lets get a real review board like the police department has.

Maybe you could suggest this during your Saturday morning breakfast with Dave????

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck Chuck Chuck

Look's like you were wrong again!

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Legal Insight said...


12:26 PM  
Blogger Bob said...


I just love how you attempt to put a spin on this deal.

You said-->
If this is HUD tipping its hand its telling the Supreme Court that they agree enforcing the housing code is designed to protect tenents and reduce segregation and to support the City of Saint Paul.

I and others are saying-->
"HUD announced that it is taking the matter into its own hands by proposing an amendment
to an agency regulation that would establish “disparate impact” as a proper approach for establishing a
violation of the Act, without any need to establish a discriminatory intent."

My opinion-->
Many many years ago when I and the Watch Dog News were the only media venues giving this important case any attention I said then the city picked a fight with the wrong people and that this lawsuit would inevitably end up in the supreme court! :)"I TOLD YOU SO!" I just had to say that!

I have another prediction, "the tax payers" of Saint Paul are going to pay dearly for the foolishness of our past and present city leaders. Racist policies come with a big price tag.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Everybody said...


12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Bob, I will grant you that the City did run into a group that is willing to waste a lot of money on lawyers for little or no chance of benefit. As I said months ago when the "disparate impact" charge became the last remaining charge left, the only potential benefit to the plaintiff in this if they were to win is to get their lawyers paid for. The plaintiff isn't a victim even if they were to win, anyone victimized was a tennent.

The case that is left is an acceptance that the plaintiff's housing was sub-standard, that it didn't meet the code and that the City had the absolute right to give them violations. That issue is no longer in dispute. These are landlords that didn't take care of their property.

The issue that is left is knowing that landlords that don't take care of their property are more likely to abuse people of color, is the City adversely affecting people of color when it enforces the code?

The City's arguement at the Supreme Court is that the FHA act doesn't address disparate impact, and that discrimination in housing cases that have won under the act are "treatment" not impact cases anyway. If you change the zoning code to not allow low income housing, you know that it will adversely affect people of color and that would fall as a treatment issue.

Even if this issue were to fail at the Supreme Court, the issue at a trial would be, can the City be found to have adversely impacted people of color when it tries to make their landlords repair their housing?

It would be reasonably insane to think that the City would be found to have adversely impacted minorities when it is advocating for its protection.


Chuck Repke

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a bad bunch controlling the city. St. Paul government used to be decent and real people trying to do their jobs.

Bob G.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong Chuck. Not only can the landlords get their attorneys paid for, they can ask for punitive damages See... ........

U.S.vs.Big D Enterprise,Inc.,F.3d 924 (932) 8th Circuit and Smith vs. Wade 461 U.S. 30 ( 56 ) if the plaintiffs can show reckless or callous indifference to Federally protected rights of others.

Plaintiffs General damages for discrimination are set out under section 1982 of the civil rights act of 1866 and the FHA allows actual and punitive damages but has it's limits.

If on remand, the court finds in favor that discrimination based on a neutral policy can and did exists
in the present case, it will award the damages. Discrimination is discrimination !!!

Jeff Matiatos

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Again, we are talking about disparate impact. The court has already dismissed every charge against the City that they made up false reports"

The hell we are.........we are talking about the disparate impact caused by the city claiming untrue violations and if you think that the court has dismissed the false violations you had better go back and read the appelate court decision.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off Jeff, where is the "disparate impact" damage against the white landlords that are involved in the suit?

The only people that ever get damages from the court are people who have been impacted. Since what we have here is a potential violation of the FHA where minority tenents may have been impacted the only people who could be awarded damages are the tenents... the people who lost housing.

No landlord lost one dime of income because of "disparate impact." They lost income because their properties weren't up to code and there is no charge left that anything was done wrong in the enforcement of the code ALL of those charges are gone.

So, if by some remote chance the Supreme's allow this to go forward and then if at the local court a judgement is made that there was disparate impact, then the impact was on people who lived in the housing and the court would have to come up with some way of assisting those who had been impacted... the people who lived in the housing.

And, 6:42 try and keep up with what is going on... all of those charges are dead. Gone. Over. As empty as your head.


Chuck Repke

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

False and made up violations are not gone because the court found that the city did do this. My head is not empty. I read the court order. Something you seem to have trouble comprehending.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck, even you admit that the landlords would at least get attorneys fees. That would be at the very least a form of damages.

Even if the plaintiffs were not able to convince the lower courts that specific defendant's were complicit in a "plot" against the landlords, what the landlords can show is an overly aggressive enforcement of a facially neutral policy that should not have been enforced as aggressive as it was.

Given this argument, I believe that
if the plaintiffs can prove this at trial, they can show that an overly aggressive enforcement of the policy was callous and reckless at the very least. This is all that needs to be shown and the lower courts have already hinted that this is so.

Jeff Matiatos

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck you are absolutely lost on this case and are a talking head! Using inspectors to address behavior issues is wrong. Writing up false code infractions to move tenants down the road is illegal. Furthermore, when the city tried to deconcentrate poverty on the eastside and frogtown areas so they could get higher property values that had a tremendous effect on the minority community(disparate impact).Low income in the city is a struggle right now and it was caused by the people you rub elbows with.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff and 9:27,

You are just wrong. Courts don't create new counts or charges that don't exist. There has already been summary judgement in favor of the City on every charge that would concern the actions of any city personnel.

The lawyers aren't able to rehash the issues that have already been dismissed as baseless. Read the summary judgement and the court of appeals decision. Those charges are gone.

So, no gold ring for the landlords no matter what happens at the supreme and from the list of things HUD came up with, inspecting property for the benefit of the tenant would never fit in HUD's guidelines of disparate impact.


Chuck Repke

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Chuck is fishing for arguments, trying to get them out into the open so the city attorney office can build defenxes and develop difficult contentions.

Bob G.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because most urban poor are African Americans, and because the vast majority of them live in residential ghettos, this economic bias transforms itself into racial attitudes exploited not only by some landlords, but has also been known to be exploited by local governments seeking to increase property values by relocating them by segregation to other locations such as was the case in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

What happened there was the local Government took advantage of the hurricanes flooding that submerged many of the poverty stricken folks's molded gehtto homes occupied by these poor African Americans. Instead of rebuilding those homes, many if not all were left homeless as the Government and banks shut them out and many of them were forced to even leave the state. The homes in New Orleans were condemmed ( A facially neutral policy procedure )but that condemnation had a dark side. It gave the local government there a means of legal discrimination in that all they had to do was delay assistance in the form of food relief and financial assistance, and temporary shelter, knowing full well that these poor people, out of desperation would leave the area just to get the basics needed to survive.

According to census data, 3/4 of the cities lower ninth ward poor people ( most damaged and impoverished area )have yet to return and probably never will due to the cities refusal to address the problems with the number of vacant and abandoned buildings which happens to be the highest in the country.

So what does this have to do with the current issue here ? Well, it's that segregationists attitude by St.Paul and many other cities that want to increase their property base values by re-locating poor people to other areas in order to promote industry and jobs for more affluent middle class whites.

They use the guise of facially neutral policys for which to accomplish that objective .

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:21 a.m. is my post.

Jeff Matiatos

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops, it's 9:20.

Jeff Matiatos

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff 3 and Repke ZERO!

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Jeff said is true. St.Paul did basically the same thing with it's DSI Department. They knew that landlords were vulnerable to minor repairs and code upgrades that DSI could either manufacture or take out of context.
There was no flooding as it was in New Orleans, but it was the best way the city new it could get landlords, who's tenants were poor and un-wanted out by taking away their most basic need for shelter.
Relocate them out of areas that the city wants to upgrade at the expence of landlords, but not push them out to the suburbs. Of course they can't afford to live out there anyways, but usually they go to the homeless shelter and places not to far from the Human Services Building where they can continue to be welfare drags as they have been for the last 50 years.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:11 PM, you are 100% correct!!!

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, let me try this one more time. If there was a conspiracy, then you have disparate treatment... get it? If the City in anyway had any plans, thoughts, notions, ideas, of any kind of discrimination, segregation or manipulation, and if it could be proven... or if there were even the smallest scrap of evidence that the City even had any intent to do any of those things, the charge that would be left standing is Disparate Treatment.

But, those charges were thrown out. They are gone. They no longer exist. It was determined that everything that was claimed here was not evidence, but rumors, lies and falsehoods. They are gone like puffs of smoke.

The one charge that is left is Disparate Impact. And, Disparate Impact in this case is based on the notion that even though the landlords had every violation that was claimed, and even though the only reason that the City had for writing up those violations was to protect the people living in those buildings from those landlords, there may have been more people of color that lost their housing (or at least a higher % of people of color) so that the IMPACT of the law that protects the poor fell more on people of color.

The City argues that disparate impact in the FHA should not apply here because if the City didn't enforce the code, then more people would be impacted by unsafe housing conditions! The City is in effect damned if they enforce the code (since more people of color live in unsafe housing and might lose their housing) and damned if they don't enforce the code (since more people of color live in unsafe housing and might be killed, injured or catch diseases).... and the City could then be sued for not enforcing the code to protect the poor under FHA.

That's it folks. That is what is in front of the Supreme's and if the landlords get their day in court is the one charge left to argue... that the City should not protect the poor from unsafe housing conditions, since they might lose their housing.

If the City has "victimized" anyone it would be only those who they had proven were living in an unsafe condition and were trying to protect from that condition.

The defense for the City in this case if it were to move forward will be showing what services it offers to assist those that are losing their housing because the landlord doesn't repair the property and what other housing options the City provides for them. It isn't about the landlords at all any more.


Chuck Repke

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck, you missed history in High School ? Segregation and discrimination was so rampant in our society as far back as the days of the first colonists.

Our own courts approved of segregation ie. Plessy vs. Ferguson
163 U.S.737, Separate but Equal I believe was the ruling.

Then, it wasn't until 1954 that Brown vs. Board of Education overturned that decision and started us down the road to equality. However, even that was not good enough to quell societys popular belief that blacks in particular, were still not entitled to the same respect and dignity afforded whites. So, Martin Luther King and his civil rights movement caused the Johnson Administration to conceive the civil rights act.

Chuck would have us believe that segregation does not exists. Especially by any hand of Government.

It's not true Chuck. It exists and
you don't sue an entity for segregation, you sue them for conduct in violation of amendments under the Constitution and the various Acts like under the FHA, Human Rights Act and so forth.

The only reason the city is not being sued for discrimination is because unfortunatley, tenants involved with the landlords in this case have not come forward to sue the city.

The landlords do not have standing to sue on behalf of it's tenants.

Otherwise, misconduct alleged by the city in this case would be relevant under a different theory other than one brought by the landlords here.

So just because these landlords did not prevail in certain aspects of this case doesn't dismiss all the probabilities of the city having been sued under a different theory had someone come forward.

Jeff Matiatos

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the way Chuck spins things around here. Jeff comes on and spins them back to the way they ought to be.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have no doubt that discrimination exists and I am concerned about it where ever it occurs. The issue here is that the charge of discrimination that you make, that the city wants to relocate people is by definition Disparate Treatment. It means that the City is treating people differently. There is an intent to do something different to one person than another. That charge in this case no longer exists.

You can wish it would exist, you can pretend it exists but it doesn't exist.

The only charge that exists is disparate impact and I have already spelled out what disparate impact means.

And, I'm not spinning, I am just telling you what treatment means and what impact means.


Chuck Repke

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was discovered and not in dispute Chuck, was that certain DSI employees had made derogatory comments about African Americans while DSI employees were on the clock and in the process of writing up landlords for violations.

Unfortunately, comments like that and other statements given in affidavits were not enough to prove disparate treatment.

So the only thing left like you say is disparate impact coming from an over aggressive code enforcement policy that landlords say impacts their ability to provide low income housing for poor and minority citizens.

You seem to not understand the theory of damages should the court on remand, find in favor of the landlord.
My understanding ( I have read Federal Cases on the FHA )is that if Disparate impact
(Discrimination )due to an overly aggressive enforcement of the code was found to have occurred, the landlords will simply use evidence that DSI and other named defendant's were callous and or reckless in the process, the courts will award general or compensatory even punitive damages in addition to attorneys.

Allegations that allege DSI callously and recklessly exceeded what should have been a non aggressive form of code enforcement, if proven, will trigger a punitive damage claim.

Jeff Matiatos

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


All of those charges are gone in Summary Judgement and have been also killed by the Federal Court of appeals.

The lies, rumors, falsehoods, that are treated here as facts and evidence are gone. They no longer exist. Those charges have been dismissed in favor of the City meaning that you can't just repackage them and bring them back again. They no longer exist. They will never be in Federal Court again... they are gone.

You can't be callous or reckless in a Disparate Impact charge. Callous or reckless is again words that occur with "Treatment." People are treated callously or recklessly and that charge is gone.

Its an Impact case.

Did the City, while protecting tennents from landlords that the court clearly sees were victimizing them, have an disparate impact on minority members? The question for the Supreme Court is can they?

Can the City be charge with an FHA violation for Impact when the court would acknowledge that failure to enforce the housing code could get a Disparate Treatment violation for allowing people of color to live in unsafe conditions and not force the landlords to repair? Because no one would dispute that if the City were seen to turn a blind eye to poor housing conditions because someone of color lived there they would be guilty under FHA of a disparate treatment claim.

That's the question.


Chuck Repke

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, based on new information and a little more research, if in fact all that is left is Disparate Impact, the only apparent damages are Equitable damages ( 527 U.S. 526 ). It just seems though that the allegations and affidavits submitted, rise to the level of being Disparate Treatment.

If the landlords can find another angle to include compensatory or punitive damages, more power to them because I still feel the Supreme Court should be reversing to find that a trial should be held for Disparate treatment.

Jeff Matiatos

3:18 PM  

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