Decision represents a major step forward in preserving 373 affordable homes in Ward 5
Bethesda, Md., March 30, 2020 – Today, the Honorable Judge Rudolf Contreras of The United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted MidCity its Motion for Summary Judgement in a lawsuit filed by tenant advocacy group OneDC and represented by Washington Lawyers Committee and the law firm Covington and Burling.
The failed lawsuit sought to stop the redevelopment of Brookland Manor based on the unsubstantiated and meritless claim that the development plan created a disparate impact on families residing at Brookland Manor. In its decision, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia unequivocally sided with MidCity, noting:
“The fundamental issue is fairly straightforward: despite pages and pages of briefings, Plaintiffs never offer any statistical analysis or other evidence that indicates how the proposed development will disparately impact families…”
The lawsuit, originally filed in 2016, has prevented the construction of 341 new, Section 8 affordable units at the site, including the development of 200-unit senior affordable building serving existing residents at the property making 30% of AMI or less. This decision removes a major barrier for the redevelopment and the construction of these new homes.
The case, which was never widely supported among Brookland Manor residents, lost both of its initial resident plaintiffs. Both of those individuals were recruited by outside interest groups and represent an example of the increasingly common practice of advocacy groups disrupting development projects for the purposes of creating case law beneficial to their political interests. Brenda Morning, a Brookland Manor senior resident and President of Champions for Change, a tenant-led organization supporting the redevelopment of Brookland Manor, was thrilled with the opinion, stating, “God is good!”
“We are exceptionally pleased with the results today and the contents of the opinion. I am incredibly gratefully to outside counsel, our partners, stockholders, my team and our hundreds of supportive residents who have stood beside MidCity as we fought to build our inclusive, mixed-income community,” said Madi Ford, senior vice president at MidCity, who has managed the litigation for the firm for over three-and-a-half years. “Today, as every day, we welcome partnership, collaboration and creative problem solving to address the housing needs of our city.”
On next steps, Ford added, “We remain committed to our plan —which was designed to commemorate Eugene Ford, Sr. and his lifelong commitment to affordable housing — to voluntarily preserve 373 units of deeply affordable subsidized housing in our project, continue our robust residents services, and serve as a national model for affordable housing preservation and mixed-income development.”
The ruling will also likely have an impact on development projects across the District, according to Michael Edney, a partner at Steptoe and lead outside council for MidCity.
“Redevelopments in Washington, DC are subject to almost reflexive litigation by organizations that disagree with a project and want to do it differently. Today’s ruling sends a powerful message about what is required to maintain those cases,” said Edney. “MidCity, from the beginning, believed this suit was without merit, and MidCity is proud to have taken this suit all the way to final judgment and to provide an important precedent about the legal standards anti-development lawsuits will have to meet.”