Alexander v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

PETITIONER: Alexander
RESPONDENT: U.S. Dept. Of Housing and Urban Development
LOCATION: Butler Residence

DOCKET NO.: 77-874
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 441 US 39 (1979)
ARGUED: Dec 05, 1978
DECIDED: Apr 17, 1979

ADVOCATES:
John Vanderstar - for petitioners in No. 77-874 and for respondents in No. 77-1463
William C. Bryson - for respondents in No. 77-874 and for petitioners in No. 77-1463

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Alexander v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 05, 1978 in Alexander v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 17, 1979 in Alexander v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Alexander against United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the consolidated cases will be announced by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

These two cases are here on writs of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the District Court of Columbia Circuit.

At issue is the scope of the term displaced person which Congress used to define the persons eligible for assistance under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

In both cases, the Department of Housing and Urban Development acquired housing projects because the project's sponsors had defaulted on federally insured loans.

After managing the property for a while HUD decided to close the projects due to the deterioration of condition and it evicted the tenants.

The tenants then filed suit contending that they were displaced persons entitled to assistance under the Relocation Act and particularly they relied on the “written order” clause contained in the definition of the term displaced person.

The Seventh Circuit eventually concluded that the tenants were not eligible under this clause of the definition.

However, the District of Columbia Circuit reached a contract -- conclusion about the scope of this written order clause.

The written opinion filed with the clerk today, we hold that the written order clause encompasses only persons ordered to vacate the property in connection with the actual or proposed acquisition of that property for a federal program.

In essence, Congress imposed two causal requirements.

First, the written order to vacate must result directly from an actual or contemplated property acquisition.

And second, that acquisition must be for or intended to further a federal program or project.

We conclude that the tenants here have not satisfied these causal requirements.

The particular default acquisitions were not for a federal program or project because they were not intended to further the purposes of the program.

In addition the plans HUD subsequently developed for disposing of the property do not meet the statutory requirements because these plans were not the reason for acquiring the property in the first place.

According to the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 1463 is reversed and the judgment in 874 is affirmed.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Marshall.