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South East Lake View Neighbors v. Department of HUD

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20047
Nos. No. 81-2104, 685 F.2d 1027/(7th Cir., 07/28/1982)

The court affirms the district court's dismissal of a neighborhood association's suit to enjoin Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rent subsidies for a low-income housing project for failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and HUD site and neighborhood standards. First, the court finds that plaintiffs' allegations of harm from increased traffic congestion and crowding, brought on by construction of the federally funded apartment complex, satisfy the injury-in-fact test for standing and show the requisite causal connection between the challenged action and alleged injury. However, the court holds that plaintiffs do not have standing to sue because withdrawal of federal assistance will not redress their alleged injuries. Even if federal mortgage insurance and rental assistance are enjoined, congestion will occur because the nearly constructed building can be completed without additional federal funds and the apartments will be occupied by tenants not receiving federal assistance. The court then holds that completion of an environmental impact statement at this stage in the building's construction, absent any allegations of environmental risks beyond those associated with traffic congestion and crowding, is unlikely to lead to an alteration in the project and thus will fail to redress plaintiffs' injuries. Finally, the court finds that the only other interest that plaintiffs can assert in seeking HUD compliance with its own funding eligibility regulations is a desire for the efficient and legal administration of a federal agency. However, plaintiffs share this interest with all citizens and it therefore fails to satisfy the standing requirement of a personal injury.

A concurrence stresses the importance of evaluating irreparable harm in a request for preliminary injunctive relief because without such relief, a plaintiff with meritorious objections to a building project that proceeds more quickly than the litigation challenging the project can be denied standing to sue.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Lawrence Bemis, James Adducci, Robert Taylor
Kirkland & Ellis
200 E. Randolph Dr., Suite 6000, Chicago IL 60601
(312) 861-2433

Counsel for Defendants
Frederick Branding, Ass't U.S. Attorney
219 S. Dearborn St., 15th Floor, Chicago IL 60604
(312) 353-5312

Counsel for Intervenor-Defendant
Jack M. Siegel
39 S. La Salle St., Chicago IL 60603
(312) 263-2968

Before WOOD and CUDAHY, Circuit Judges, and DUMBAULD, Senior District Judge.*