Sunday, August 16, 2015

Another Municipality Trips Over Its Allegedly Discriminatory Code Requirements Affecting Those w/ Intellectual Disabilities; Agrees To Pay $50K & Other Non-Monetary Consideration To Resolve Fair Housing Suits

From the U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.):
  • The Justice Department [] announced an agreement with the city of Petal, Mississippi, to resolve allegations of discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities who sought to live in supported housing in one of the city’s residential neighborhoods.

    The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, alleges that the city violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act when it took actions to prevent three men with disabilities from residing together in a rented home on the same terms as non-disabled persons; under the city’s zoning code, up to four unrelated persons may reside together in a home in a residential neighborhood. The home at issue is run by Brandi’s Hope Community Services, LLC, a Magee, Mississippi-based company that provides around-the-clock support for residents.

    Under the terms of the agreement, approved by the court on July 29, 2015, the city will pay $25,000 to Brandi’s Hope in monetary damages and $25,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. The city will take other remedial measures, including implementing the comprehensive reasonable accommodation policy and zoning code amendments it enacted as part of the settlement. The settlement also resolves a separate lawsuit against the city brought by Brandi’s Hope.

    “Persons with disabilities have the right to live in and enjoy their communities, just as all families do throughout our nation,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to eliminate discriminatory barriers that impede these individuals from doing so. We commend the city of Petal for working cooperatively with the department to reach this resolution.”(1)
Source: Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Alleging Disability Discrimination in Housing by the City of Petal, Mississippi.

Go here for other posts on Fair Housing Act/Americans With Disabilities Act enforcement in connection with those with intellectual/developmental disbilities
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(1) Under Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), the Supreme Court held that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with [intellectual] disabilities have the right to live in the community rather than in institutions if, in the words of the opinion of the Court, "the State's treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities." (Reference: Wikipedia).

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