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The Housing and Development Law Institute (HDLI) is a nationwide non-profit member organization whose mission is to serve as a legal resource to public housing and redevelopment agencies, their developers and legal counsel.


Amicus Appearances

assists its members by filing briefs as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in appropriate appellate cases, subject to approval by HDLI's Board of Directors.

Bridgewaters v. Boston Housing Authority

On January 7, 2009 the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts handed down its decision in Bridgewaters v. Boston Hous. Author. involving a case where the housing authority argued, inter alia, that it did not have a duty to consider whether a mentally disabled tenant that committed a vicious violent act upon another tenant was entitled to a reasonable accommodation that would avoid his eviction from public housing. The tenant argued that he suffered from bipolar disorder, that he had been unmedicated at the time of the attack, and that the housing authority had a duty, but failed, to explore the feasibility of a reasonable accommodation of his disability before concluding that continuation of his tenancy would constitute a threat to the safety of other tenants. Reversing prior court decisions upholding the tenant's eviction, the supreme court held that, by regulation, prior to moving to evict the tenant, a housing authority has a duty to make an individualized assessment as to whether a proposed accommodation will eliminate the direct threat posed by the tenant. The court held that such an assessment should be based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence to ascertain: the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk. It is important to note that this decision does not prevent a housing authority from evicting a disabled tenant where it can demonstrate that no accommodation is available that would protect the health or safety of other tenants. Rather, it underscores the requirement that housing authorities not automatically reject a request for accommodation before making the individual assessment as to whether the proposed accommodation would eliminate the disabled tenant's direct threat to the health or safety of others.
HDLI's brief is available here.


Ohio Civil Rights Comm. v.
Akron Metro. Housing Authority

HDLI submitted an amicus brief in support of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority. The Supreme Court of Ohio, in a 7-0 decision, rejected the creation of a “hostile living environment” claim in Ohio. You can access the decision and HDLI’s brief.

HDLI filed briefs to the Minnesota Supreme Court in Hinneberg v. Big Stone County Housing and Redevlopment Authority and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Johnson v. Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish et al.

HDLI has been amicus to the United States Supreme Court in these three cases:

  1. Virginia v. Hicks, No. 02-371

  2. The Housing Authority of the City of Dallas v. Highlands of McKamy IV and V Community Improvement Association, No. 02-1282

  3. HUD v. Rucker, No. 00-1770




Housing and Development Law Institute; 630 Eye Street, NW; Washington, D.C., 20001-3736; Phone: 202-289-3400; Fax 202-289-3401 E-mail: hdli@hdli.org