In November 2018, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) seeking records concerning the agency’s involvement in a plan to demolish or dispose of public housing in Wellston, Missouri. HUD officials had told Wellston public housing residents that their homes would be demolished or sold, and that they would have to relocate. The elimination of Wellston’s public housing stock would displace about a quarter of the residents of the small city near St. Louis. LSEM represents the Wellston Tenant Association and individual public housing residents.
HUD produced 190 pages of documents in response to LSEM’s request, but the documents were heavily redacted. On May 13, 2019, LSEM, represented by Public Citizen Litigation Group, filed suit alleging that the agency improperly withheld the redacted portions of the records. The lawsuit asks the court to order HUD to produce the requested records without delay.