WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that Dalton Township, Mich., will pay $62,500 to settle a lawsuit alleging that the township discriminated against a group home for persons recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The settlement was approved today by Judge Gordon J. Quist of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
"The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act ensure that persons with disabilities, including those recovering from addiction, can live in a community of their choosing free from discrimination," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of federal laws to protect the civil rights of persons with disabilities across the country."
"Cities and towns have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations to their zoning policies when they are necessary to afford people with disabilities the same housing opportunities that others enjoy," said John Trasviña, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will continue to work with the Justice Department to enforce the Fair Housing Act to ensure equal housing opportunities for people with disabilities."
Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, Dalton Township will:
- Pay $55,000 to the owner of the group home, and permit him to operate the group home for up to nine men recovering from alcohol and drug dependency at its current location;
- Pay $7,500 to the United States as a civil penalty;
- Develop a written policy that will provide a process by which persons may request reasonable accommodations or modifications on the basis of disability from the Township’s zoning and land use requirements; and
- Obtain training in the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act for Township officials involved in land use and zoning decisions.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department on July 28. 2010, alleging that the township violated the Fair Housing Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to grant a special use permit that would have allowed a group home for persons recovering from drug and alcohol addiction to continue operating. The United States’ complaint alleged that the group home had provided housing from persons recovering from drug and alcohol addictions since 2006. Residents of the home were subject to random unannounced drug testing and were also required to attend regular Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. After the township refused to allow the home permission to continue operating, the owner filed a complaint with HUD, which referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that state and local governments give persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services and activities.
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination or have information related to this lawsuit can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.