3/24/16 Justice Delayed

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Hamtramck, Michigan is an enclave inside Detroit.  Last year, it made history.  It became the first city in America with a Muslim majority and a Muslim city council to match.

It is also home to the nation’s longest housing discrimination case.

For nearly half a century, Hamtramck has been dragging its feet to comply with a judge’s order to remedy a problem city officials created.

In the early 1960s, the city used federal money earmarked for urban renewal.  But, instead of improving blighted areas, city officials began demolishing low-income black neighborhoods.  According to court documents, city bureaucrats were systematically forcing blacks out of the city.

The court found the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development — a co-defendant in the case — was also liable.  The judge presiding over the 1968 lawsuit accused HUD officials of approving what he called a “negro removal” plan.

The judge ordered the city to build 200 homes and 230 apartments to be affordable housing for displaced families.

[The verdict was upheld on appeal.]

Then for decades, the city did absolutely nothing.  Plaintiffs died off.  Some descendants of the plaintiffs who were school children when the lawsuit was filed are now retired adults.

Using a combination of federal, state and local monies [here, here], the city recently finished construction of the 430 units.  The granddaughter of a displaced couple — who’s now dead — moved into the last home.

Justice delayed.  But justice nonetheless.

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