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Thursday, March 15, 2018

City Preliminarily Enjoined From Evicting Residents From Group Home

The City of Springfield imposes zoning restrictions on family care residences that require a distance of at least 600 feet between these uses. That zoning regulation was the subject of a federal lawsuit that argued that the City discriminated against three disabled individuals living in a residence located within 600 feet of an existing disabled group home. 

When the city learned that a particular home was being used as a group home and that it was located across the street from another group home it notified the second home that it would need to cease the group home use or obtain a conditional permitted use (CPU). The owners applied for the CPU, but the city denied it after a hearing at which a number of neighborhood residents objected to the use. Following that denial, plaintiffs sued, claiming that the city discriminated against disabled persons in violation of the Fair Housing Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Plaintiffs' theories of liability were as follows: (1) the 600 foot spacing requirement discriminates against disabled persons because there is no similar spacing requirement for non-disabled persons; (2) the spacing requirement has a disparate impact on disabled persons; and (3) by denying the CPU, the city failed to make a reasonable accommodation.

The trial court granted plaintiffs an injunction against the city from evicting the residents while the case proceeded. The city appealed, arguing that plaintiffs did not meet the injunction standards because they failed to show a reasonable likelihood of success on their theories of liability.

The Seventh Circuit agreed with the trial court on one basis - that the plaintiffs had a reasonable chance of success on their "reasonable accommodation" theory. Specifically, the Seventh Circuit determined that the request by plaintiffs that the city approve a CPU to allow their group home was a reasonable request that could support an argument that it was a reasonable accommodation. As a result, the Seventh Circuit upheld the preliminary injunction while the merits of the case continue. Valencia v. City of Springfield (7th Cir. March 1, 2018)

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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