FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
CHICAGO RETIREMENT COMMUNITY PAYS $220,000 TO SETTLE
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The owners of a retirement community in Chicago, Illinois, have agreed to settle a housing discrimination complaint by paying $220,000 in damages and penalties, the Justice Department announced today.
The lawsuit and proposed consent order, filed today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that the defendants, Resurrection Retirement Community, Inc. and Resurrection Health Care, Inc., discriminated against individuals with disabilities who sought to live at the facility.
Resurrection Retirement Community, located on the city's northwest side at 7262 W. Peterson Avenue, is a retirement development consisting of approximately 500 apartment units, elevators and extensive common use areas.
"This settlement will help ensure that persons are not denied the chance to live in a retirement community because they have a disability," said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Older persons with disabilities should not be forced into costly assisted living facilities because of a housing provider's misconception that they cannot live independently."
The complaint, also filed today, alleges that the defendants discouraged persons who use wheelchairs from renting apartment units and unnecessarily steered them to assisted-living facilities. The complaint further alleges that the defendants illegally inquired about the severity of the applicants' disabilities and required certain individuals to submit to a medical assessment as a term or condition of tenancy.
"Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act to ensure people with disabilities are treated equally by housing providers. Rejecting applicants who use wheelchairs and asking about their disabilities runs afoul of the law. We will continue to vigorously enforce this law to help ensure compliance and to stop alleged violations where they occur," said Patrick Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Today's settlement is believed to be the first agreement involving such practices at a major retirement community. Under the terms of the consent order, which must still be approved by the court, the defendants will, in addition to paying monetary damages and penalties:
•accept qualified persons with disabilities, including persons who use wheelchairs, on the same terms as other persons;
•adopt and implement uniform, non-discriminatory policies that ensure that agents of Resurrection Retirement Community do not make statements indicating that persons who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices for mobility should not live there;
•rescind their previous policy requiring persons with disabilities to submit to a medical assessment as a condition of living at Resurrection Retirement Community;
•receive fair housing training and require employees to undergo such training;
•institute a program of compliance testing; and
•submit reports to the Justice Department concerning their compliance with the settlement
for five years.
Any individuals who believe that they were denied housing at Resurrection Retirement Community on the basis of disability should contact the office of the Office of the United States Attorney at (312) 353-1857 or the United States Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743.
Persons who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination elsewhere should contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at (800) 669-9777 or the United States Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743.
Additional information is available on HUD's website at www.hud.gov and the Justice Department website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing.