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"The New Haven Legal Assistance Association"

September/October 1995 issue of Poverty & Race

The parties have reached a final settlement in Christian Community Action v. Cisneros Civil Action No. 3:91 CV 00296 (AVC), (formerly Christian Community Action v. Kemp), a 1991 class action suit alleging historical segregation of public housing in New Haven, and challenging the siting of 366 replacement public housing units that were part of a HUD-approved plan to replace units from a demolished high-rise development. Attorneys for the plaintiffs included Glenn Falk and Shelley White of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and Philip Tegeler and JoNel Newman of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation.
Specific terms of the agreement include:

* The remaining replacement units that have not already been put in place will be located outside of areas of minority concentration. (Almost all of the housing sited during the pendency of the lawsuit has also been outside areas of minority concentration.)

* HUD and the New Haven Housing Authority will attempt to locate up to 62 of these replacement units in suburban towns, if developers can be found.

* HUD will provide 446 new Section 8 tenant-based mobility certificates over
the next 4 years targeted for use outside of areas of minority concentration and in the suburbs.

* HUD will fund anew regional housing mobility program for the New Haven area that will assist families with special mobility certificates to find apartments.

* The New Haven Housing Authority will incorporate enhanced mobility provisions in its regular Section 8 program.

During the litigation, PRRAC funding enabled the plaintiffs to retain the services of Yale Rabin, who provided analyses of new housing sites under consideration by the Housing Authority; a history of the development of segregation in the New Haven region from 1950 to 1990; the relation between public housing development and segregated housing patterns in New Haven; and a critique and analysis of HUD site and neighborhood standards. Rabin, Professor Emeritus of Planning at the University of Virginia and from 19871994 Visiting Scholar at M.I.T., has served as an expert witness in many major housing and school desegregation cases. He provided helpful input for the settlement discussions and donated considerable time beyond what the PRRAC grant covered. The project also was fortunate to have the donated assistance of Dr. Andrew Wiese, a historian who examined extensive archival material on the early development of segregated housing patterns in New Haven.

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