NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A group of Norfolk residents is suing the city’s housing authority and the federal housing authority over plans to tear down and redevelop the St Paul’s area.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court.
The 51-page complaint begins by detailing what it calls Norfolk’s “long and indisputable history of racial segregation.” It alleges the plan to redevelop the St. Paul’s Quadrant would further segregate and disadvantage black residents in violation of federal law.
The quadrant includes the Tidewater Gardens, Young Terrace and Calvert Square public housing complexes, where more than 1,600 apartments where many of the poorest residents of the city live.
The lawsuit claims the average household income is about $12,000 a year.
The suit says the plaintiffs do not oppose the redevelopment,
but that it should not take place on the backs of black residents.
There is enough room, the lawsuit says, for the city and Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority to create a mixed-income community that includes all current residents. The lawsuit says it could be accomplished by simply building more and/or higher buildings. If they can’t, they should build new public housing in high-opportunity areas rather than forcing people to live in highly-segregated areas of the city.
The lawsuit asks a federal judge to force the city to stop move-outs and modify the relocation plans.
A spokesperson for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority told WAVY they cannot comment on pending litigation.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development did not respond to a request for comment.