the Secretary to "restore with reasonable diligence each of the units and common areas in the eight rehabilitated buildings to a condition at least as decent, safe and sanitary as that existing as of September 17, 1974," the date of the decision to demolish, and to permit any tenant family which desired to do so to return to Sky Tower under the terms of its previous tenancy.
Experience has confirmed the Court's view that the ultimate destruction of the project through vandalism is certain, in spite of guards, unless the project is inhabited.
The basis of the defendants' claim that it will cost $535,000 to restore the buildings, now inexplicably reduced to $139,000, has never been submitted to the Court. Moreover, HUD uses complete compliance with the housing code as its benchmark in generating cost estimates. This is substantially more than required by the Court's Order. No major rehabilitation is contemplated pendente lite, but only that HUD return the buildings to the minimally habitable conditions existing as of the time it evicted the tenants. On March 7, 1975, at defendants' instance, the Court specifically clarified its Order in open court to make clear that no repairs need be undertaken of units except those needed to house returning tenants. There are 15 families already back in Sky Tower, 18 others have indicated their desire to move back, and 22 additional families have not as yet been located.
No less is require if the project is to continue to exist during this litigation.
Defendants' motion to be relieved from certain requirements of the Preliminary Injunction accordingly will be denied. Indeed, the Order must be strengthened since it has come to the attention of the Court that HUD has chosen not to attempt good-faith compliance with the Court's Order. No informed or even casual observer can fail to recognize that inadequate housing for low-income families is at the root of the social unrest, the violence and the general squalor that typifies large sections of many metropolitan areas, including the District of Columbia. Congress has long recognized that the public interest requires this situation be remedied. It has passed statutes and appropriated large sums to this end. The instant case illustrates the wide gap that persists between this legislative commitment to action and the performance by HUD to which Congress has delegated responsibility.
In this concrete instance HUD has ignored its responsibilities in spite of the urgent need for low-income housing in the Nation's Capital and an effective Order of this Court.
No low-income family will be housed by creating another vacant lot. Persisting in its determination to tear down useful housing constructed at Government expense, HUD continues to refuse to spend money to make the structures again minimally habitable. Tenants now in the structures and others who seek accommodation have brought forward substantial grounds to conclude that HUD has ignored its statutory responsibilities. It is no answer for HUD to say that demolition is more convenient, less expensive and justified by an alleged right to exercise unreviewable discretion. Nor can it fob off responsibility by pointing to the distressing lack of effective support which has so far been indicated by local authorities. HUD has a mandate to act with more sensitivity and courage and it is the responsibility of the Court to see that this mandate is carried out as Congress directed.
HUD's lethargic and minimal response to the Court's Order must cease. It must proceed to rehabilitate. The preliminary injunction previously entered and largely disregarded must be particularized in the light of experience to assure compliance.
Accordingly, within seven days from the date of this Order, HUD shall submit a detailed plan for achieving full compliance within 30 days with this Court's Order. This plan shall indicate by individual apartments what steps are required and a schedule for achieving compliance. Any failure to act in good faith in accordance with this directive will require immediate sanctions.
The motion to dismiss and the motion for a partial stay of the preliminary injunction are denied. Defendants shall submit a plan for compliance within seven days.