Fair housing groups file lawsuit over alleged Katrina program discrimination Kiely Lewandowski at 10:31 PM ET
[JURIST] State and national housing advocates filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release, PDF] Wednesday arguing that Louisiana's Hurricane Katrina recovery program, Road Home Louisiana [program website], discriminates against African-American homeowners. The federally-funded program awards grants to homeowners in the lesser of the following two amounts: the pre-storm value of the home or the cost of the damage. Because home values in African-American communities are substantially lower than those of similar homes in white neighborhoods, plaintiffs National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and Greater News Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) [advocacy group websites] contend in the complaint:
African Americans whose property received substantial damage and who qualify for Road Home grants are more likely than white applicants to receive a grant that is based on the pre-storm value of their home. Because the Road Home formula limits grant awards to the pre-storm value of the home where that amount is less than the cost of damage, African-American recipients of Road Home grants are more likely than white grantees to have a gap between their rebuilding resources and the cost to rebuild.
The US federal government has been repeatedly criticized [JURIST report] for its alleged discriminatory treatment of African-Americans in response to Hurricane Katrina. In February the UN called on [press release] the US to put a stop to discrimination against African-Americans who were being evicted from their homes or denied access to other available housing in the wake of the hurricane. A 2007 study [AP report] found that housing discrimination against African-Americans searching for rental property post-Katrina was widespread.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.