Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. v. Twp. of Mount Holly, No. 11-1159 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The Township proposed redevelopment that would eliminate 327-329 existing homes in a neighborhood, occupied predominantly by low-income minority residents, and replace them with more expensive housing, unaffordable to current residents. About half of the existing brick row houses, built in the 1950s, were owner-occupied. A 2000 report described the area as characterized by blight, excess land coverage, poor land use, and excess crime; the Township began to acquire properties. By 2008, 75 homes had been destroyed and 148 had been acquired and left vacant. By 2009, 110 more homes were destroyed, causing noise, vibration, dust, and debris. Residents alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3604(a)); the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. 1982) ; and the Equal Protection Clause. The district court granted summary judgment to the Township. The Third Circuit reversed. Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the residents, the evidence was sufficient to establish a prima facie case of disparate impact under the FHA. The court must ask whether the Township's legitimate objectives could have been achieved in a less discriminatory way. Contrasting statements about the cost and feasibility of an alternative relying on rehabilitation, create genuine issues of material fact.