United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING, CYNTHIA CURTIS, MARY HUBBARD, IRENE NIEMOTKA, MARGARET (“PEGGY”) SHADDUCK, and KELLY WATERMAN, Plaintiffs,
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF DALLAS, TEXAS, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KINKEADE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Housing Authority of the City of
Dallas, Texas' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) and Brief in Support (the “Motion”)
(Doc. No. 19). The Court has considered the Motion, brief in
support, response, reply, and applicable law. Because the
Plaintiffs' claims are not yet ripe for judicial review,
the Court GRANTS the Motion and
DISMISSES without prejudice all of the
Plaintiffs' claims within their Complaint (Doc. No. 1).
Factual and Procedural Background
dispute at the center of this case involves a purported
policy of Defendant Housing Authority of the City of Dallas,
Texas (“DHA”) regarding the availability of a
certain type of Section 8 housing voucher for individuals
with intellectual and developmental disabilities
(“I/DDs”). Plaintiffs Cynthia Curtis, Mary
Hubbard, Irene Niemotka, Margaret (“Peggy”)
Shadduck, and Kelly Waterman (collectively, the
“Individual Plaintiffs”) are all mothers of adult
children with I/DDs. Each of the Individual Plaintiffs desire
a housing situation for their respective children that would
allow these adult children to live more independently from
their parents. More specifically, the Individual Plaintiffs
would prefer a housing situation in which their children live
in single-family homes with other individuals with similar
I/DDs. These households would have a live-in aide who would
help support the three or more residents with I/DDs.
provide and maintain a single-family home for adults with
I/DDs, the Individual Plaintiffs would need some form of
financial assistance. Project-based vouchers
(“PBVs”) are one form of financial assistance
that the Individual Plaintiffs considered. PBVs are a subset
of “Section 8” housing vouchers. Whereas the more
commonly known Section 8 housing vouchers provide subsidies
to individuals that qualify for them, PBVs
“attach” to specific properties. Owners of
properties that qualify for PBVs can then in turn rent the
property to qualifying individuals at a lower rate.
the benefit of PBVs for parents in situations similar to the
situations of the Individual Plaintiffs, Plaintiff Community
for Permanent Supported Housing (“CPSH”) began
working with DHA in 2012 in an effort to convince DHA to
provide PBVs for properties tailored for individuals with
I/DDs. In July 2016, at CPSH's urging, DHA initiated a
pilot program that would make available up to 50 PBVs for
single-family homes that would house three or more
individuals with I/DDs, as well as a live-in aide. DHA began
this pilot program through a “request for
proposals” (“RFP”), through which property
owners and potential property owners could submit
applications to receive a PBV for a property that satisfied
the necessary requirements.
important aspect of this RFP was that in DHA's marketing
of the RFP, DHA stated that a parent of an adult child with
an I/DD could be the owner (and thus the landlord) of a
property in which one of the residents was his or her adult
child. Federal regulations generally prohibit such an
arrangement, but DHA took the position that allowing such an
arrangement for this RFP would be permissible as a
“reasonable accommodation” to the general rule.
See 24 C.F.R. § 983.251(a)(4) (2018). DHA took
this position in an addendum to its RFP that it published in
September 2016, and DHA also relayed this position at an
informational meeting organized by CPSH.
parties dispute many of the following facts, but, because of
the procedural posture of this case, the Court adopts the
facts as pleaded in the Complaint. Early in 2017, prior to
taking any action on an application for a PBV made in the
RFP, DHA decided to cancel the pilot program that would
provide up to 50 PBVs for properties housing individuals with
I/DDs. DHA communicated this decision to CPSH in April 2017.
In its communications to CPSH, DHA stated that it decided to
cancel the pilot program because of guidance it received from
the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
(“HUD”) regarding the effect of the regulations
that generally prohibit parents from renting a PBV-subsidized
property to their children. In HUD's guidance letter to
DHA, which the Plaintiffs quote in their Complaint and DHA
appends as an exhibit to its reply, HUD explains that a
family-owned, PBV-subsidized property may be permissible as
an exception to the general rule prohibiting such an
arrangement under the theory that such an arrangement may be
a “reasonable accommodation.” In this same
guidance letter, HUD noted that there might be potential for
concern in DHA's RFP if the RFP purported to limit the
applicant pool to individuals with certain types of
disabilities and excluded individuals with other disabilities
that would otherwise qualify for housing assistance.
DHA received this guidance letter, the Plaintiffs allege that
DHA took two actions. First, as explained above, DHA
cancelled the PBV pilot program that might have allowed the
Individual Plaintiffs an opportunity to obtain a PBV for a
property that would house their children. Prior to the
cancellation of the pilot program, Plaintiff Mary Hubbard had
submitted an application for a PBV, while the other
Individual Plaintiffs had taken “affirmative
steps” in anticipation of applying for a PBV. Second,
DHA “effectively adopted [a] blanket ban”
prohibiting PBV housing arrangements in which the parent was
the owner of a single-family home where the adult child with
an I/DD resided. This second alleged action by DHA forms the
basis of the Plaintiffs' claims.
styles its Motion as one based upon Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), but DHA's arguments stem from two
separate theories. First, DHA argues that neither CPSH nor
the Individual Plaintiffs have standing to bring their
claims. Second, DHA argues that the Plaintiffs fail to state
a claim under any of the statutes on which they based the
claims in their Complaint. Because the Court's analysis
in this Order focuses on issues of standing and ripeness, the
Court does not address DHA's second theory in its Motion.
response to DHA's arguments regarding the Plaintiffs'
standing, the Plaintiffs emphasize that DHA misunderstands
the nature of the Plaintiffs' claims. Rather than base
their Complaint solely on DHA's discontinuance of the PBV
pilot program, the Plaintiffs base their claims on DHA's
purported blanket ban prohibiting family-owned,
PBV-subsidized properties for adult children with I/DDs. In
other words, the Plaintiffs are not suing for reinstatement
of the PBV pilot program or for the approval of any specific
PBV application; the Plaintiffs instead are challenging
DHA's per se rule prohibiting family-owned,
PBV-subsidized properties even when such an arrangement might
qualify as a “reasonable accommodation.”
Understanding the Complaint in this manner, the Plaintiffs
argue that the Individual Plaintiffs have standing because
they are prohibited from ever benefitting from a PBV voucher.
The Plaintiffs also argue that CPSH has standing because CPSH
devoted time and resources in advertising the pilot program
and educating interested individuals, like the Individual
Plaintiffs, about how the PBVs would operate, and DHA injured
CPSH by effectively discontinuing the pilot program through
adopting a blanket ban prohibiting family-owned,
oft-repeated requirements of Article III standing are that
the plaintiff ‘(1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that
is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the
defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a
favorable judicial decision.'” Ecosystem Inv.
Partners v. Crosby Dredging, L.L.C., 729 Fed.Appx. 287,
291 (5th Cir. 2018) (quoting Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins,
136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016)). A district court may dismiss a
case for lack of standing “on any one of three separate
bases: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or
(3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the
court's resolution of disputed facts.” Moore v.
Bryant, 853 F.3d 245, 248 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Barrera- Montenegro v. United States, 74 F.3d 657,
659 (5th Cir. 1996)). A district court should dismiss a case
for lack of constitutional standing under Rule 12(b)(1).
Harold H. Huggins Realty, Inc. v. FNC, Inc., 634
F.3d 787, 795 n.2 (5th Cir. 2011). The district court may
raise the issue of constitutional standing sua
sponte at any time. See id.; Fed.R.Civ.P.
justiciability doctrines of ripeness and standing often
intersect . . . .” Prestage Farms, Inc. v. Bd. of
Supervisors of Noxubee Cty., Miss., 205 F.3d 265, 268
n.7 (5th Cir. 2000). “Nonetheless, ripeness and
standing serve separate and distinct purposes, and it is
possible for claim [sic] to be unripe despite the existence
of standing to raise that claim.” Roman Catholic
Diocese of Dall. v. Sebelius, 927 F.Supp.2d 406, 423
(N.D. Tex. 2013) (Boyle, J.). “In general terms,
standing is concerned with whether a proper party is bringing
suit, while ripeness is concerned with whether the suit is
being brought at the proper time.” Texas v. United
States, 497 F.3d 491, 496 (5th Cir. 2007). A case that
is not ripe is a case that “will be better decided
later, ” not necessarily a case that lacks standing.
See Roman Catholic Diocese of Dall., 927 F.Supp. 2d.
at 424 (quoting Simmonds v. INS, 326 F.3d 351, 357
(2d Cir. 2003)). Cases that are not ripe are often too
abstract or hypothetical for judicial resolution. Choice
Inc. v. Greenstein, 691 F.3d 710, 715 (5th Cir. 2012).
Similar to when a district court ...