Civil action. Injunction.
[2 NJSuper Page 258] Before the court is the complaint brought on behalf of nine Negro veterans of World War II for injunctive and other relief. Plaintiffs are honorably discharged veterans and are and have been residents of East Orange, both at the
time of their entry into and their discharge from service. Each of them is a citizen of the United States, married, and each has at least one child. Plaintiffs are regularly employed and each receives monthly wages at least four times the monthly rental fixed for the project. They are in need of housing and have made timely application to the City of East Orange for accommodations in the emergency housing project. None has been accepted as tenants in the South Arlington Avenue project solely because that project admittedly has been reserved by the City of East Orange for occupancy by white veterans.
Four housing projects have been commenced under R.S. 55:14 G -1. et seq., P.L. 1946, c. 323, in the City of East Orange located as follows: 146-158 South Arlington Avenue containing 44 dwelling units; 68-78 Elmwood Avenue containing 40 dwelling units; Rhode Island Avenue and Chelsea Place containing 20 dwelling units; and 291-295 North Clinton Street containing 14 dwelling units. Of these only one, the project on South Arlington Avenue has reached that state of completion where families have been accepted as tenants and are in possession of their apartments. All such families admitted as tenants to this apartment are white. In leasing apartments in this project the plan followed by the City of East Orange was to exclude Negroes. William M. McConnell, a member of the City Council of East Orange, and chairman of the Veterans Housing Committee, in his reply affidavit says: "It was the intent and policy of the City to assign the first Negro tenants recommended by the Screening Committee and whose applications have been and are being investigated, to site No. 2 (North Clinton Street) which affords at least equal dwelling facilities to the other three sites. This policy was established by the City after careful study and consideration of the experience and general tenant relationships obtained by the governing body in temporary veterans' housing projects heretofore furnished by the City under both Federal and State temporary housing programs."
Under R.S. 55-14G-2, P.L. 1946, c. 323, the "authority" mentioned in the act is defined to mean the Public Housing and Development Authority in the State Department of Economic
Development. "Administrator" means the administrator of the Public Housing and Development Authority who is the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development. The present administrator is the defendant, Charles R. Erdman, Jr. His deputy is the defendant, William T. Vanderlipp.
The administrator has promulgated regulations under which priorities for tenants are to be established as follows: (a) distressed veterans or families of veterans; (b) distressed servicemen or families of servicemen; (c) distressed families of non-veterans or servicemen; (d) non-distressed veterans or families of veterans; (e) non-distressed servicemen or families of servicemen; (f) non-distressed families other than veterans of servicemen.
The City of East Orange, by the members of its City Council and the mayor, are the agencies charged with the renting of the several projects. The individuals composing the City Council, the mayor, the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development of the State of New Jersey, and his deputy administrator, and the City of East Orange are named herein as defendants.
Plaintiffs seek injunction enjoining the defendants from denying to plaintiffs and other qualified Negro applicants equal opportunity to be considered for admission to the various emergency housing projects under their control and supervision where such denial is solely because of the race or color of such applicants, and from asking information on or anywise considering race, creed, color, national origin or ancestry in any application for occupancy in such projects under their control and supervision and from considering race, creed, color, national origin or ancestry in processing, investigating or acting upon any such application.
The South Arlington Avenue project was commenced October 27, 1947 and according to William M. McConnell, chairman of the veterans' permanent housing committee of the City of East Orange, the structure, although not yet fully completed or accepted by the state agency, was, by agreement with the state agency because of the dire need for ...