Today, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) announced that it has settled all claims against St. Bernard Parish stemming from a 2006 lawsuit that challenged Parish ordinances designed to restrict rentals. These ordinances included the “blood relative ordinance,” which stipulated that owners of single-family homes could only rent to their blood relatives. Specifically, this week’s agreement settles all matters on appeal and requires the Parish to pay $1,843,728 in fees to GNOFHAC, any other plaintiffs, and their attorneys.
In 2008, the Parish agreed to settle GNOFHAC’s 2006 suit by entering into a consent decree. Through the decree, the Parish agreed not to violate the Fair Housing Act. Over the course of the next several years, however, the Parish continued to enact ordinances that restricted rentals, including a 2008 moratorium on all multi-family housing. GNOFHAC filed several motions and complaints alleging the Parish repeatedly violated the terms of the consent decree, a federal court’s orders, and the Fair Housing Act.
Federal courts ruled in favor of GNOFHAC’s position in round after round of court proceedings, but each time, the Parish appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. This week’s settlement agreement ends the appeals process altogether.
GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry stated, “We are pleased that the Parish has once and for all agreed to pay up and put this matter to rest. In the face of officially sanctioned discrimination on the part of Parish leaders, our fight ensured that all people, regardless of race, were able to make a home in St. Bernard. We hope that this settlement sends a clear message that in addition to being wrong, housing discrimination is just not worth it when it comes to the financial bottom line.”
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