families, and if HHS had not abdicated its enforcement duties, it could have taken enforcement actions which would have compelled the states to provide emergency shelter to all eligible applicants. Plaintiffs have alleged that in failing to monitor, HHS has violated its regulations. For the purpose of this motion, we can assume that some states are in substantial noncompliance with provisions in their EA plans, and that they are systematically denying emergency shelter to eligible families. Plaintiffs assert that the Court should also assume that the withholding of funds as provided for by 42 U.S.C. § 604 will be effective in compelling the states to comply with their plans.
At a minimum, to show that HHS is a substantial factor in the denial of EA to eligible families, plaintiffs have to allege facts which show that in implementing their plans, the states are violating federal requirements, and that the violation of these requirements results in the denial of EA to eligible families. HHS might be a substantial influence on the states' compliance with the federal requirements, since the states have indicated that they want the benefits of participation in the EA program, and that they are willing to meet the federal requirements in order to get them.
The optional state provisions are distinguishable from the federal requirements which Congress or the Agency have made a condition of the states' receiving the benefits of participation in the EA program. If a state is violating a provision in its plan which is not a federal requirement, it could remedy that violation by changing its plan. Thus, although states are obligated to adhere to their optional provisions, Koster v. Webb, 598 F. Supp. 1134 (1983),
it is speculative whether federal enforcement of those provisions will lead to additional assistance where the states are at liberty to drop those provisions from their plans. See, e.g. Quern. Furthermore, the Act and the regulations clearly focus on the enforcement of federal requirements. 42 USC § 604; 45 CFR §§ 201.6 and 201.13. This is not to say that HHS has no authority or duty to monitor and enforce the states' adherence to the optional provisions of their plans. See eg 45 CFR § 210.10. However, the traceability and redressability factors are too remote and speculative to grant plaintiffs standing to force the Agency to take such action.
The main point is that when it comes to eligibility and the amount of EA which the states provide, the states have broad discretion and flexibility. HHS, while not powerless, does not have the leverage over the states under this system to ensure that the relief plaintiffs seek here will be anything other than speculative. While the states might react to increased federal monitoring and enforcement of their programs by providing ES to all who are eligible, they might also limit eligibility, or limit the services provided under their EA programs, such as ES. They might also completely withdraw from the EA program. There is no reason to presume that the alleged mandated sanction of withholding further funds from a state that is in substantial noncompliance with federal regulations will also be effective in the enforcement of optional provisions. There is considerable doubt as to whether that sanction will be effective where the alleged violation is a failure to spend sufficient funds to meet the needs of eligible applicants for ES. Thus, HHS' control over the states' provision of ES to eligible applicants is speculative and indirect.
For the reasons discussed above, this Court concludes that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring this suit. Accordingly, defendants' motion to dismiss should be granted and this case should be dismissed. An appropriate Order has been entered.
Date April 11, 1989