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IMES v. PHILADELPHIA HOUS. AUTH.

April 30, 1996

VERA IMES, ET AL.
v.
PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

 BRODERICK, J.

 April 30, 1996

 This is a class action brought by tenants of public housing managed by the Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA"), alleging that PHA's practices regarding the painting of tenant units deprive Plaintiffs of their right to "decent, safe, and sanitary housing" under the United States Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1437. Plaintiffs commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1437, and seek declaratory and injunctive relief directing Defendants to routinely paint PHA tenant units. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

 On March 16, 1994, the Court certified a class pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2) as follows:

 
All Philadelphia Housing Authority tenants who have been deprived of safe, decent and sanitary housing pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1437 as a result of PHA's failure or refusal to paint tenants' rental units or provide tenants with paint to paint their rental units.

 A non-jury trial of this action was held on October 30, 1995.

 I. FINDINGS OF FACT

 At the commencement of the non-jury trial, counsel for the parties informed the Court that there were no factual disputes as to PHA's paint practices. The Court thereupon asked the parties to put a stipulation as to PHA's paint practices on the record, which the Court will summarize as follows.

 When paint is in stock, a tenant may obtain only two gallons of paint at a time. If a tenant is unable to pick up paint at PHA offices, PHA will make arrangements to provide paint to the tenant. Due to budgetary restraints, paint is periodically unavailable to tenants.

 As the parties were unable to stipulate to PHA's policy regarding the painting of the exterior of PHA units, PHA called Dennis Glancey, who had served as director of "scattered site" housing for PHA. Based on Glancey's direct testimony and cross-examination, the Court finds that most of PHA's scattered site housing units have brick facades and that PHA does not routinely paint the exterior of these units during the course of a tenant's occupancy. However, PHA does paint the exterior surfaces of these units at various times due to deterioration, and PHA has recently completed replacing and repainting windows on 300 units of scattered site housing. PHA never provides exterior paint to tenants because of potential safety problems in allowing tenants to paint the exteriors of their units.

 When repair work has been done to the interior of a tenant unit, either by PHA or by its contractors, PHA only requires its maintenance staff or contractors to repaint interior surfaces if the repair work was substantial. Plaintiffs dispute the extent to which PHA or its contractors did painting after such repairs, but Plaintiffs presented no testimony at trial on this issue. Counsel for both parties also disputed the extent to which paint was in stock and the number of hours during which PHA made paint available to tenants, but no testimony on this issue was presented at trial by either party.

 In their proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, Plaintiffs have acknowledged that PHA paints the interiors of its units immediately prior to when a new tenant family is moved in. However, PHA does not routinely repaint the interior of occupied tenant units.

 PHA's current lease also includes an attachment entitled "Question Most Commonly Asked by PHA Applicants/Residents" which includes the following text:

 
9. Can I paint/decorate my unit?
 
Yes. Paint may be supplied by PHA when needed and/or requested.

 Both parties agree that PHA is a body exercising the public powers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and that it receives funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pursuant to the United States Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1437, in order to provide public housing in the City of Philadelphia. Both parties also agree that PHA has no ...


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