Gautreaux v. Pierce, 548 F. Supp. 1294 (N.D. Ill. 1982)

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois - 548 F. Supp. 1294 (N.D. Ill. 1982)
August 31, 1982

548 F. Supp. 1294 (1982)

Dorothy GAUTREAUX, et al., Plaintiffs,
Samuel R. PIERCE, Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development, et al., Defendants.

Nos. 66 C 1459, 66 C 1460.

United States District Court, N. D. Illinois, E. D.

August 31, 1982.

Alexander Polikoff, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs.

John Jensen, Regional Counsel for HUD, Chicago, Ill., Gershon M. Ratner, Associate General Counsel for Litigation, U.S. Dept. of HUD, Washington, D.C., for defendants.



ASPEN, District Judge:

This matter is presently before the Court on the joint motion of plaintiffs and the *1295 United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") for modification of Exhibits A and B to the June 16, 1981, consent decree between those parties so as to reflect certain racial shifts in the demography of the Chicago Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area ("Chicago SMSA") as documented by the 1980 census and by information supplied by persons familiar with the geographical areas in question. The parties' joint motion is filed pursuant to paragraph 8.3 of the consent decree which provides that "[a]fter the availability of final 1980 census data, but not more frequently than every two years thereafter, either HUD or plaintiffs' counsel, without the consent of the other, may request the Court to modify Exhibits A and B hereto."

Exhibits A and B to the consent decree divide the Chicago SMSA into "General," "Limited" and "Revitalizing" areas for the purpose of determining the location of housing to be provided for the benefit of the plaintiff class under the surrogate for "blacks" and that the terms "non-white," "minority", and "blacks" have been used interchangeably in mapping out the General, Limited and Revitalizing Areas with respect to Exhibits A and B to the decree.

Although IHDA correctly notes that, in other contexts, the term "minority" has been used to encompass not only blacks but also other non-whites, sometimes even including Spanish-surnamed persons who may or may not be correctly categorized as "non-white," such an expansive use of the term "minority" is not justified in the context of this case. From its inception, this case, filed on behalf of a class of black applicants for and occupants of public housing in the City of Chicago, has focused on the systematic exclusion of black individuals and families from housing opportunities in the predominantly white areas of the Chicago area and the appropriate remedy for such unconstitutional action by local and national governmental agencies.

As early as 1969, when the late Judge Austin entered the first judgment order in this matter, the parties as well as the Court viewed the central issue in the case for purposes of both liability and relief in terms of blacks vs. whites and not in terms of whites vs. all minorities in the broadest sense of that term. Although Judge Austin used the terms "white" and "non-white" in his opinion, as those terms were used in the 1960 census, see Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, 304 F. Supp. 736, 737 (N.D.Ill.1969), it is clear that "non-white" at that time was virtually a surrogate for "blacks" for purposes of U.S. census data. Indeed, the Bureau of the Census noted that "Negroes constitute 92 percent of all non-whites, [and] many of the data presented are shown for all the non-white races combined...." United States Bureau of the Census, Census of Population: 1960, Vol. 1, Characteristics of the Population, pt. 15 (Illinois), p. xx. Contrary to IHDA's assertion, therefore, at the time of Judge Austin's order, it was virtually impossible to separate data for blacks from other nonwhites and, in any event, such separation would not have been very useful since blacks made up almost the entire non-white population enumerated by the census.

While the Census Bureau refined its enumeration and reporting procedures in subsequent censuses, HUD and plaintiffs' counsel continued to define the General and Limited public housing areas of the City for the most part in terms of black and white populations. The original Exhibits A and B to the consent decree reflect this state of affairs except that some census tracts that were technically less than 30 percent black were included in the Limited Area if they were adjacent to predominantly black census tracts and showed evidence of rapid racial transition. See Plaintiffs' Joint Reply Brief at 3 n.*.[1]

*1296 IHDA contends that its interpretation of the consent decree is supported by the fact that the class of "eligible persons" for purposes of relief under the decree, see Consent Decree at ΒΆ 2.3, is not limited to blacks but includes any member of a household occupying non-elderly or handicapped housing, regardless of race. This argument is irrelevant to the issue of the proper interpretation of the term "minority" as used in the decree in describing the General, Limited and Revitalizing Areas set forth in Exhibits A and B. The fact that the class of persons eligible to be placed in housing under the decree includes blacks, whites and other persons indicates nothing with regard to the potential location of the housing to be supplied under the consent decree.

In sum, it is our view that the only reasonable interpretation of the consent decree, consistent with the theory and context of this case since its inception, is that advanced by plaintiffs and HUD in support of the proposed modification of Exhibits A and B of the decree. Accordingly, the parties' joint motion to modify the decree is granted and the Court will enter the order submitted in connection with the parties' motion. It is so ordered.



This matter coming on to be heard on the amended joint motion of plaintiffs and the defendant United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, pursuant to Paragraphs 8.1 and 8.3 of the Consent Decree signed herein on June 16, 1981, and

The Court having heard the presentations of counsel for such parties and determined that the proposed order modifying said Consent Decree is appropriate and is consistent with and in furtherance of the purposes of said Consent Decree,

It is hereby ordered that Exhibits A and B to said Consent Decree be replaced by Exhibits A-1 and B-1 attached hereto and that such Exhibits A-1 and B-1 shall be applicable with respect to initial reservations of contract authority made after the date of this order.





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[1] IHDA's quotations from testimony at the fairness hearing on the consent decree indicating that witnesses who testified in favor of the decree used the terms "minority" and "nonwhites" in conjunction with their descriptions of the General and Limited housing areas in Exhibits A and B conspicuously begs the question of whether those witnesses intended to equate "blacks" with "minority" or "non-whites."