Friday, January 23, 2009

Court Rejects Challenge By Hasidic Jews To NY Housing Authority Rules

In Ungar v. New York City Housing Authority, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3578 (SD NY, Jan. 14, 2009), a New York federal district court rejected challenges by a group of Hasidic Jews to the of the New York City Housing Authority's Tenant Selection Assignment Plan as it operates to allocate access to public housing units in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Plaintiffs, particularly concerned about access to apartments to accommodate large families, claim that they have religious needs to live near various religious facilities and other members of their religious community in Williamsburg.

The court rejected plaintiffs' argument that receipt of federal funding made the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act applicable to the city housing agency. It also rejected plaintiffs' federal Fair Housing Act claim that the failure to provide applicants for public housing with the option to designate three Williamsburg projects has a disparate impact on the Hasidic community. Finally the court rejected plaintiffs' free exercise claim, holding that "the Authority's admission and transfer policies do not bar any particular religious practice or interfere in any way with the free exercise of religion by singling out a particular religion or imposing any disabilities on the basis of religion."