Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Subsidized Housing Family Size Limit Did Not Violate Rights Of Orthodox Jewish Family

In Katz v. New York City Housing Preservation & Development, (SD NY, Aug. 8, 2022), a New York federal district court rejected Free Exercise and Affordable Housing Act claims brought by an Orthodox Jewish family whose applications for an affordable housing unit were denied  because their family size exceeded the apartments' maximum occupancy limit. Plaintiffs claim that their religious beliefs require them to have a large family.  As to the Free Exercise claim, the court said in part:

The Katzes do not claim that Defendants’ policies disfavor acts only religious in nature or that Defendants otherwise showed overt animus in denying their applications or later appeals. Nor do they claim that the maximum occupancy limit is not generally applicable. They thus ask the Court to apply rational-basis review to analyze the occupancy restrictions....

Here, the City has a legitimate state interest in preventing overcrowding in subsidized apartment units. And limiting a unit’s occupancy to two people per bedroom is rationally related to that legitimate interest by setting a numerical cap on each apartment....

Rejecting the Fair Housing Act claim, the court said in part:

Here, the Katzes have failed to plausibly allege that the policies have created a disproportionate effect on Orthodox Jews because they never allege that the occupancy limits have or will result in an underrepresentation of Orthodox Jews in affordable housing lotteries in New York City. That is because at no point does the Complaint compare Orthodox Jews applying for New York City affordable housing lotteries to similarly situated individuals.