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GNOFHAC Settles Lawsuit Against St. Bernard Parish

Posted on 28. Feb, 2008 by in 2008 News, Enforcement News, News, St. Bernard Parish

On February 28, 2008, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center announced the settlement of its lawsuit against St. Bernard Parish regarding a discriminatory local ordinance. St. Bernard Parish has agreed to pay a $32,500 settlement over a 2006 ordinance, since repealed, that restricted the rental of a home to blood relatives of the owner. GNOFHAC alleged that the ordinance was racially discriminatory, since white individuals own 93% of all owner-occupied housing in St. Bernard Parish, and make up approximately 88% of the Parish’s population.

2-28-08: Read GNO Fair Housing’s press release here.

2-29-08: Read the Times Picayune article on the settlement here.

2-29-08: Read Jarvis DeBerry’s opinion from the Times Picayune here.

3-1-08: Read the Times Picayune editorial here.

St. Bernard Parish Agrees to Halt Enforcement of Discriminatory Ordinance

Posted on 13. Nov, 2006 by in 2006 News, News, St. Bernard Parish

On November 13, 2006, St. Bernard Parish agreed to suspend enforcement of a September 2006 ordinance barring single-family homeowners from renting to anyone except blood relatives without the special permission of the Parish Council. The agreement comes on the heels of the filing of a motion for preliminary injunction last week by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and Wallace Rodrigue, both plaintiffs in the case.

11-13-06 Read the press release here

Fair Housing Center Files Suit Against St. Bernard Parish

Posted on 03. Oct, 2006 by in 2006 News, Enforcement News, News, St. Bernard Parish

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed suit this morning against St. Bernard Parish in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The suit prays for a permanent injunction restraining St. Bernard Parish from enforcing its single-family and blood-relative ordinances.

GNOFHAC will host a news conference at 1:00 p.m. to provide details of the lawsuit. Additionally, attendees will hear from a landlord harmed by the discriminatory ordinance. The event will be held on the neutral ground near the intersection of St. Claude Ave. & Mehle Ave, in front of the St. Bernard Parish “Welcome,” sign.

GNOFHAC filed the lawsuit because the ordinance’s blood relative requirement will prevent St. Bernard homeowners with covered residences from renting to any person not of the owner’s own race and national origin. The most recent estimates from United States Census Data indicate that whites own nearly 93% of St. Bernard Parish owneroccupied housing. As a result, in most circumstances only whites would
be able to rent most single-family housing in the Parish.

10-3-06 Read the full press release here

Fair Housing Center Calls on St. Bernard Parish to Repeal Discriminatory Ordinance; Ordinance May Ban Non-White Renters

Posted on 22. Sep, 2006 by in 2006 News, News, St. Bernard Parish

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) calls on St. Bernard Parish to repeal a discriminatory ordinance recently passed by the Parish Council. According to the St. Bernard Parish website, “Except with a special permit, owners who weren’t previously renting out a single-family residence in R-1 zones will now be prohibited from doing so unless the renter is a blood relative…” www.sbpg.net/sep2006.html.

The ordinance’s blood relative requirement will prevent St. Bernard homeowners with covered residences from renting to any person not of the owner’s own race and national origin. The most recent estimates from United States Census Data indicate that whites own nearly 93% of St. Bernard Parish owner-occupied housing. As a result, in most circumstances, only whites would be able to rent most single-family housing in the Parish.

The Fair Housing Act, as amended (The Act), expressly prohibits discrimination in the rental or sale of a dwelling on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 3604 (a). The Act has been interpreted to prohibit municipalities from using their zoning powers in a manner that excludes housing for a group of people on the basis of one of the enumerated classifications. The Act is violated even when seemingly neutral zoning policies have a discriminatory effect on a particular protected class and cause harm to a community through the perpetuation of segregation. As such, the Ordinance is likely illegal discrimination.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “Post-Katrina, citizens have partnered like never before, opening their hearts and homes to strangers. However, the St. Bernard Parish Council has taken action to shut St. Bernard’s door to just about anyone who isn’t white. We call on the Parish to reverse the ordinance immediately and ask any resident, homeowner, landlord or renter harmed by the Council’s actions to contact our office immediately.”

9-22-06 View the press release here