a population of over nine hundred thousand. The Court sees no reason to suppose that residents of neighborhoods, and of entire communities which are fashioned by discriminatory housing practices, are less "injured in fact" than the residents of a large apartment complex subject to similar discriminatory practices.
This issue was addressed in TOPIC v. Circle Realty Co., 377 F. Supp. 111 (C.D.Cal.1974), rev'd. on other grounds, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1976). Plaintiffs in TOPIC were unincorporated volunteer organization and individual residents of the community embracing the cities of Torrance and Carson, and an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County between those two cities. They sought to enjoin defendant real estate firms from engaging in alleged discriminatory practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The area had a residential population of approximately one hundred thousand. While recognizing that the Trafficante decision extended standing to residents of a single housing project and that the Supreme Court's language "presupposes some outer limits to the rule enunciated," the district court found no just reason for setting the limits short of the facts then before the court. The court noted that residents of the Torrance-Carson community live in a closely settled area, and utilize the same stores, churches and recreational facilities. "If any of the 8,200 residents of an apartment complex can be injured by virtue of the loss of important benefits from interracial associations surely the residents of the Carson-Torrance community can and do suffer similar deprivations." Id. at 114. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that § 3612, unlike § 3610, does not create a cause of action for the "indirect" injuries alleged, and remanded to the district court for dismissal. TOPIC v. Circle Realty, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1976). The decision on appeal suggests also that, in a section of metropolitan Los Angeles, with a population of nearly one hundred thousand, the benefits of living in an integrated community may be so attenuated as to negate the existence of injury in fact. This Court respectfully disagrees with the Ninth Circuit's suggestion, and like the district court in TOPIC, declines to set the limits of the Trafficante rule short of the facts of the instant case. The alleged discriminatory housing practices and the effects of those practices would, if true, cause greater injury to the residents of Bergen County, then the harm alluded to by the residents of the Trafficante housing complex. The fact that the alleged injury affects a large number of people in a large geographic area does not serve to attenuate it. On the contrary, it makes the harm more severe. Residents of an all white housing complex may need only to look to the next residential facility for the interracial associations they desire. If the allegations here are true, residents of Bergen County may have to go to an entirely different neighborhood or community. Similarly, a completely white building is less of a "ghetto" than a completely white neighborhood or community. That the cordon sanitaire has been drawn around an entire community rather than a single apartment complex does not render it lawful. This Court therefore holds that the residents of predominantly white neighborhoods have alleged injury in fact sufficient to confer standing to sue for violation of the Fair Housing Act, and respectfully declines to follow the contrary result suggested in TOPIC on appeal. The foregoing analysis applies equally with respect to residents of predominantly black neighborhoods or communities. These plaintiffs also have alleged the requisite injury in fact.
Defendants, relying on the decision of the Court of Appeals in TOPIC, next contend that § 3612 of the Fair Housing Act confers a cause of action on a class of persons much narrower than § 3610 and that plaintiffs do not fall within that class.
In TOPIC the Ninth Circuit read the Supreme Court's decision in Trafficante as limited to § 3610, and held that under § 3612, in order to have standing, the plaintiff must be a "direct victim" of the alleged wrongful practice. The court relied on differences in the statutory language
between the two sections and a perceived "statutory design" giving only those persons "directly" injured immediate access to federal court while relegating those only indirectly injured first to the administrative processes.
This Court must again respectfully disagree with the analysis of the Ninth Circuit in TOPIC. In light of the procedural posture of Trafficante when that case reached the Supreme Court, it is simply impossible to tell with certainty whether the Court considered both statutory sections or only § 3610. Trafficante began as an action by two tenants under both § 3610 and § 3612, as well as Title 42 U.S.C. § 1982. A complaint in intervention was subsequently filed by four other residents of the apartment complex and an unincorporated association of its residents. The intervenors, who had not pursued § 3610's administrative remedies, alleged only two causes of action, one based upon § 3612 and one on § 1982. Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 446 F.2d 1158, 1161 n. 5 (9th Cir. 1971). The Court of Appeals, affirming the district court's dismissal, held that none of the plaintiffs had standing to sue under any of the statutory sections invoked. The Supreme Court, of course, reversed.
The Supreme Court's opinion, which deals exclusively with the question of standing under the Fair Housing Act, cites and quotes both § 3610 and § 3612 without in any way distinguishing the two. In light of the fact that the intervenors' complaint alleged a cause of action under § 3612 and not under § 3610, we deem this fact significant. Moreover, the Supreme Court explicitly declined to reach the question of standing under Title 42 U.S.C. § 1982. Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 409 U.S. 205, 209 n. 8, 93 S. Ct. 364, 34 L. Ed. 2d 415 (1972). If the Supreme Court were deciding only the § 3610 question, this Court sees no reason why it did not expressly decline to consider § 3612. Nevertheless, in light of the Court's reliance on the words "person claiming to be aggrieved," which appear in § 3610, but not in § 3612, we are hesitant to read Trafficante as controlling on the question of standing to sue under § 3612.
The Third Circuit has not directly confronted this issue. But this Court believes that this Circuit would construe standing under § 3612 more broadly than the Ninth Circuit has done. In Shannon v. United States Dept. of Housing and Urban Dev., 436 F.2d 809 (3rd Cir. 1970), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that white and black residents, businessmen, and representatives of private civic organizations in the East Poplar Urban Renewal area of Philadelphia had standing to sue for an injunction against the Department of Housing and Urban Development's participation in a housing project which was about to be constructed. Plaintiffs alleged a number of substantive and procedural irregularities in the Department's approval of a change in the urban renewal plan to allow low income rental dwellings instead of the owner-occupied dwellings originally planned. The defendants argued that plaintiffs had no standing because they were neither displaced residents nor potential occupants of any proposed project and thus their interests were too remote. The Court stated:
We do not agree. Certainly the dispute which they seek to have adjudicated will be presented in an adversary context. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101, 88 S. Ct. 1942, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947 (1968). The test, for Article III purposes, is whether or not plaintiffs allege injury in fact. They do indeed. They allege that the concentration of lower income black residents in a 221(d)(3) rent supplement project in their neighborhood will adversely affect not only their investments in homes and businesses, but even the very quality of their daily lives.