WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today sued the City of Satsuma, Ala., for violating the Fair Housing Act when the city refused to allow three women with disabilities to live together in a group home. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, charges that Satsuma refused to make reasonable accommodations in its rules, policies, practices or services, which were necessary to afford the residents an opportunity to use and enjoy their home.
The three adult residents lived in a single-family home with supportive services provided by professional care-givers. The City’s zoning ordinance permits five unrelated persons to reside together in single-family homes in residential zones of the City.
“The Fair Housing Act ensures that persons with disabilities have the right to live in communities of their choice. We will continue to enforce the Act vigorously,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
This lawsuit arose as a result of complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the three women, each of whom has a diagnosis of intellectual disability. HUD referred the cases to the Justice Department after conducting an investigation.
The suit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the City and requiring the City to grant the requested accommodation, pay monetary damages to compensate victims, and pay a civil penalty.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 246 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 117 of which have alleged discrimination based on disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), email the Justice Department at email@example.com, or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.