Housing-bias trial date pushed back to next year

Metro

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August 13, 2005|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

The date for a trial to determine remedies for a finding of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against black public housing residents in Baltimore has been pushed back to at least March.

The second, or remedy, phase of the trial in the 10-year-old civil rights case had been scheduled to begin Dec. 5 but was delayed by disputes between lawyers for HUD and public housing residents over the taking of expert witness depositions, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled in January that HUD violated fair-housing laws by failing to reduce the effects of past discrimination by taking a regional approach to public housing

In a court order issued last month, Garbis set a deadline of Jan. 20 for pretrial briefs and said the trial would begin "on or after March 6, 2006."

HUD lawyers filed a motion asking that no remedy proceeding be held. HUD's lawyers argued in part that the agency cannot be faulted for not building more public housing in the counties surrounding Baltimore because "local public housing authorities - not HUD - build public housing."

But lawyers for public housing residents said HUD's motion should be rejected because the agency controls a broad array of federal housing programs, including Section 8 vouchers and Federal Housing Authority funds.

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