Jefferson Parish Public Housing Tenants Win a Victory Against HUD

Posted on: April 29, 2024


Lacy Crawford,

Hannah Adams, Staff Attorney, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, (504) 529-1000 x.258,

Jefferson Parish Public Housing Tenants Win a Victory Against HUD, Stopping the Planned Conversion of the Acre Road Public Housing Development 

LOUISIANA––The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, have successfully won summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of current and former residents of the Acre Road public housing development (“Acre Road”) in Marrero, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.  The decision will allow the affected current and former tenants an opportunity to fight for their interests by requiring HUD to provide them due consideration in any future Acre Road conversion and redevelopment plans.

On April 19, 2024, the court ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs, vacating the approval of the Acre Road Streamlined Voluntary Conversion (SVC). The court found that HUD failed to address data showing that the conversion would have disparate impact on Black residents by forcing them to move to more highly segregated areas, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The court also found that HUD violated the U.S. Housing Act by failing to give adequate consideration to whether the cost of conversion would exceed the cost of continuing to operate the public housing, whether the conversion would principally benefit the tenants, and whether the conversion would adversely affect the availability of affordable housing in the community.

Darin Collins, President of the Marrero Tenants Organization, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said "The MTO appreciates the federal courts' decision to halt HAJP's application for HUD's SVC program. This decision allows Jefferson Parish, the Housing Authority, and HUD to collaborate with the Marrero Tenants Organization on redeveloping the historic Acre Road community. This partnership aims to ensure that the redevelopment benefits the tenants and provides them with equity in Jefferson Parish."

Acre Road contains 200 units of public housing built in the 1960s to serve predominantly Black families in Jefferson Parish. It is the last remaining public housing operated by the Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish (“HAJP”). In late 2020, after years of neglected maintenance, the Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish applied to HUD for approval to move Acre Road families from public housing to the Housing Choice Voucher program, and to permanently close out its public housing program.

The Marrero Tenants Organization (“MTO”) and its members raised concerns that tenants would likely be displaced from Jefferson Parish, or forced to move to more highly segregated areas, due to patterns of racial segregation and widespread discrimination against voucher-holders. Residents were faced with the impossible choice of either moving to a more racially segregated area or remaining at Acre Road in deteriorating units. HUD ignored their concerns and instead found “no civil rights concerns” after a cursory review of the application. The SVC application was approved in March 2023, and the approval was ratified in October 2023.

“Displacement is one of the most important racial justice issues of the present day,” said Thomas Silverstein, acting director for the Fair Housing and Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “As factors ranging from inadequate building maintenance to climate risk to skyrocketing rents threaten to push tenants of color out of their communities, it is imperative that HUD and the nation’s housing authorities take this decision as a call to arms to reduce those threats and protect tenants, rather than to exacerbate them.”

Jehan Patterson, Counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP, said, “The court affirmed that HUD cannot disregard the law and must administer public housing programs—including decisions to close them—in a manner that takes into account the needs of residents who deserve safe, healthy, and adequate housing. Acre Road residents deserve to have a say in the future redevelopment of their community, and this decision recognizes that.”

Hannah Adams, staff attorney at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services said, “As desperately needed public housing is eliminated all over the country, this decision stands for the proposition that HUD can no longer rubber stamp conversion and demolition applications without giving serious thought to where tenants will be able to move with vouchers.”

On May 4, 2023, current and former Acre Road residents and their tenant organization filed suit, challenging both a 2019 HUD Notice (“2019 Notice”), which provided the process for SVCs, as well as HUD’s subsequent approval of the Acre Road SVC.


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