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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 98-232
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Wednesday
HUD Florida Office: 305/662-4506June 17, 1998


WASHINGTON - An agreement settling a class action lawsuit filed by public housing residents in Miami-Dade County, FL, will provide increased housing opportunities for low-income black families, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today.

The Miami-Dade County Commission voted early this morning to approve the agreement, which resolves long-standing allegations concerning segregation of black families in public housing.

"The proposed settlement is an ambitious plan to desegregate public housing and other federally assisted housing programs, provide black public housing residents with a choice of housing options and improve the quality of life in public housing developments and the surrounding neighborhoods," said Mayor Penelas. "I believe that the terms of this settlement agreement, when combined with other components of the County's economic revitalization program, will have a positive, synergistic effect on some of this County's most poverty-stricken areas, thus furthering our goals of stimulating economic and community development in these areas. Truly, this settlement agreement represents a significant investment in Miami-Dade County's future and demonstrates the County's commitment to providing fair, affordable housing opportunities to public housing residents."

"HUD and Miami-Dade County have worked in partnership to settle this lawsuit," Secretary Cuomo said. "This is a good settlement that will improve living conditions for black people remaining in public housing and will enable many to receive rental assistance payments that will allow them to rent apartments owned by private landlords."

The agreement responds to claims of racial discrimination raised by a class of black public housing residents, who alleged that they have been denied equal access to Section 8 rental assistance that would allow them to rent privately owned apartments.

Black public housing residents represented in the class action lawsuit will be provided opportunities to receive rental assistance certificates and vouchers, which will be accompanied by mobility counseling and incentives to encourage the families to move to other neighborhoods they might choose to live in.

The settlement also includes several provisions designed to benefit and integrate the County's public housing developments. Dade County, which over the past decade has, through tremendous financial investment and managerial commitment, risen from HUD's troubled housing agency list to one of the best performing large public housing agencies in the nation, sees the settlement as part of its continuing commitment to improve public housing. Dade County has committed to enhance the services provided public housing residents and to improve the surrounding neighborhoods. Non-blacks will be offered mobility counseling and incentives to encourage them to try family public housing. Applicants will be able to state preferences for particular developments, and group moves will be available.

In addition, the agreement calls for the creation of a fair housing center, which will be primarily responsible for much of the mobility counseling, as well as for offering clearinghouse-type services available to all low-income families and for conducting outreach to potential Section 8 landlords in non-poverty neighborhoods.

Cuomo said that over the past year and a half, his staff has participated in extensive discussions regarding the terms of the settlement to diligently ensure that the interests of all parties to the case are protected to the greatest extent possible under the law.

The negotiated consent decree was submitted to Judge James C. Paine of the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach. Because this is a class action lawsuit, a fairness hearing will be held September 25, 1998, in order for the court to give final approval to the settlement. The suit was initially filed in 1987 against Miami-Dade County and amended in late 1990 to include HUD.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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