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Dayton Veterans Residences Ltd. Partnership v. Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

August 22, 2017

DAYTON METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY, d/b/a Greater Dayton Premier Management, Defendant.




         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Dayton Veterans Residences Limited Partnership, doing business as Freedom's Path at Dayton (Plaintiff), is a Florida limited partnership authorized to do business in Ohio. It describes itself as, “A sole purpose entity formed specifically for the purpose of developing and owning the 60 units of affordable housing in Dayton that will serve United States Veterans ….” (Doc. #6, PageID #48, ¶5). Most of the veterans it seeks to house in its development are “persons with disabilities.” Id. at ¶13.

         Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority, doing business as Greater Dayton Premier Management (GDPM), is a federal public housing agency operating in Montgomery County, Ohio and the greater Dayton, Ohio region. Its mission is, in part, to operate public housing for low-income individuals, seniors, and families.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant GDPM blocked Plaintiff's attempts to obtain financing it needed to develop and own 60 units of low-income housing for veterans in Dayton. Defendant GDPM did so, according to the amended complaint, with discriminatory intent and with discriminatory effect in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §12101, et seq.[2]

         The case is presently before the Court upon Defendant GDPM's Motion to Dismiss under 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (Doc. #7), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Doc. #9), Defendant GDPM's Reply (Doc. #10), Plaintiff's Surreply (Doc. #16), and the record as a whole. The issues the parties raise broadly concern whether Plaintiff has standing to pursue, whether its amended complaint states a plausible claim upon which relief can be granted, and whether its claims are not ripe for review.

         II. Background

         To understand the factual context from which Plaintiff's claims emerge requires discussion of the federal housing program known as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) and its connection to this case. Plaintiff's amended complaint informs the discussion. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975) (“ For purposes of ruling on a motion to dismiss for want of standing, ... the ... [C]ourt must accept as true all material allegations of the complaint, and [it] must construe the complaint in favor of the complaining party.”); see also DLX, Inc. v. Kentucky, 381 F.3d 511, 516 (6th Cir. 2004).

         VASH “is a federal program that is allocated to public housing authorities in two forms”: a tenant-based form and a project-based form. (Doc. #6, PageID #49, ¶10). “The VASH program combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Id. at ¶17. Plaintiff's goal is to use VASH project-based rental assistance to house veterans, most of whom are disabled, in a development known as Freedom Path-Dayton VA on the VA Medical Center's campus in Dayton. Id. at ¶s 25, 28.

         “On April 9, 2013, … under the leadership of Alphonzio Prude, GDPM's Interim Chief Executive Officer, GDPM extended its support for Plaintiff's new development on the campus of the VA Medical Center and committed thirty-three … project-based vouchers.” Id. at ¶28. This support was extended through a Program the amended complaint identifies as “Housing Choice Awards.” Id. at ¶s 23, 28. The amended complaint describes Housing Choice Awards as “another kind of housing assistance ….” Id. at ¶29.

         Plaintiff alleges that Prude's/GDPM's affirmative commitment to provide 33 project-based through Housing Choice Awards supported Plaintiff's goal of provide housing assistance to disabled and other veterans on the VA Medical Center's campus in Dayton. (A copy of Prude's commitment letter is attached to the amended complaint. Id. at ¶29 (and Exhibit A)). The connection between Housing Choice Awards and VASH project-based vouchers is that HUD administers the VASH program “in accordance with most of the requirements that apply to Housing Choice Vouchers ….”[3] Id. at ¶23. The import of this emerges from Prude's letter in which he states that GDPM's Housing Choice Voucher Program is extending their support for the new development on the campus of the VA Medical Center.” (Doc. #6, PageID #62). Plaintiff understands this as GDPM's initial affirmative commitment to support Plaintiff's efforts to obtain VASH financing for its planned housing development. (Doc. #6, PageID #53, ¶29).

         This leads to the heart of the amended complaint. Plaintiff alleges that since Defendant GDPM's initial affirmative commitment, GDPM “has balked at providing continued support to Plaintiff.” Id. at ¶30. Plaintiff needs Defendant GDPM's support “because only [Public Housing Authorities] such as GDPM may apply for a VASH allocation.” Id. at ¶27. In December 2015, Plaintiff asked GDPM to apply for project-specific, project-based VASH vouchers on Plaintiff's behalf. The application deadline was in September 2016. GDPM declined to do so. “Notwithstanding its initial commitment of thirty-three … project-based [Housing Choice Vouchers] ¶ 2013, GDPM has balked at providing continued support to Plaintiff.” Id. at ¶30. Plaintiff alleges:

Recently, under new leadership, and following meetings between GDPM's Executive Director Jennifer N. Heapy, Plaintiff's principals, and others, GDPM proposed applying for VASH Project-Based Rental Assistance on behalf of itself….
By applying for VASH [assistance] … on its own behalf rather than on behalf of Freedom's Path, as GDPM had originally promised, and by not applying in a timely manner for Plaintiff's specific, project-based VASH vouchers, GDPM jeopardized HUD's award of 25 points that would give Plaintiff enough points for its project to be selected, which in turn would provide necessary treatment to veterans who would otherwise go without adequate treatment and housing.

Id. at ¶s 31-32.

         In response to Plaintiff's inquiries, Defendant GDPM provided “various inconsistent, mistaken, or shifting rationales for its indecision….” Id. at ¶33. Plaintiff alleges, for example, GDPM explained, in part, that Prude's letter was inconsistent with federal law, and GDPM “has already exceeded its overall allocation of vouchers (this in incorrect-a HUD VASH voucher waiver to the cap is available)[.]” Id.

         On September 2, 2016, Plaintiff's counsel sent a detailed letter to GDPM asking it to apply to HUD on Plaintiff's behalf for 60 VASH vouchers. Id. at ¶34 and Exhibit B, PageID #64. Plaintiff emphasized in its letter that “[t]ime is of the essence” given the September 9, 2016 deadline for applications to HUD for VASH vouchers. Id. Plaintiff's letter also stated, “Please treat this as a request for reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and take whatever steps necessary to accommodate our request to apply to H.U.D. for the sixty (60) HUD-VASH vouchers....” Id. Plaintiff asserts in its amended complaint that GDPM denied the requested accommodation. (Doc. #6, PageID #54, ¶34).

         Plaintiff claims that GDPM's discriminatory conduct violated the FHA by effectively making “housing unavailable to Plaintiff's prospective residents. [GDPM's] acts were undertaken with the intent to discriminate against, and had the effect of discriminating against, disabled veterans and those who provide services to them, namely Plaintiff and its prospective residents.” Id. at ¶64. Plaintiff also claims that GDPM's stalling and denial of a reasonable accommodation violated the ADA and “were taken with the intent to discriminate against, and had the ...

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