Saturday, June 17, 2017

City To Cough Up $185K, Agrees To Revise Zoning Code In Settlement Of Fair Housing Lawsuit Accusing It Of Using Unlawful Restrictions To Keep Group Homes For Those In Recovery From Alcohol/Substance Abuse Out Of Residential Neighborhoods

From the U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.):
  • The Justice Department today [May 31] announced a settlement with the City of Jackson, Mississippi to resolve allegations that the city violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by preventing people in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse from living in group homes in most residential areas.

    The settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, resolves a lawsuit the department filed in September 2016.

    The United States alleged that the City of Jackson engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of disability by imposing unlawful zoning restrictions on group homes for persons in recovery. The city enforced those restrictions against a group home operated by Urban Rehab, Inc., resulting in an order requiring the home to close and the residents to relocate. Several other homes for persons in recovery were at risk of being closed by the city’s enforcement of its ordinance.

    As part of the settlement, the city agreed to revise its zoning code to permit persons in recovery to reside in all residential zones and to ease other restrictions on group homes for people with disabilities. The city has agreed to adopt a reasonable accommodation policy, train city employees on the requirements of the FHA and ADA, appoint a Fair Housing Compliance Officer, and report periodically to the Justice Department. The city will pay $100,000 to the owner of Urban Rehab, Inc., $35,000 to the department as a civil penalty, and $50,000 to a settlement fund that will compensate other victims.