On June 29, 2017, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. City of Jacksonville (M.D. Fla.). The complaint, filed by the United States and the United States Attorney's Office on December 20, 2016, alleged that the City of Jacksonville violated the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to allow the development of housing for individuals with disabilities in its Springfield neighborhood. In 2014, Ability Housing, Inc., a non-profit affordable housing provider, was awarded a $1.35 million grant to revitalize a 12-unit apartment building and create “permanent supportive housing” for “chronically homeless” individuals in the City who, by definition, have at least one disability. The complaint alleged that the City had previously certified that this use was consistent with the City’s zoning code, but the City reversed itself in response to intense community pressure based on stereotypes about prospective residents with disabilities. The complaint alleged that as a result, Ability Housing lost the grant and the property. The complaint also alleged that the City retaliated against Ability Housing when, in response to Ability Housing’s private FHA/ADA suit against the City, the City told a local nonprofit that it was prohibited from funding Ability Housing with money the nonprofit received from the City. As part of the City’s settlement with the department, the City has amended its zoning code to better comply with federal anti-discrimination laws, including removing restrictions that apply to housing for persons with disabilities and implementing a reasonable accommodation policy. The City has also agreed to rescind the written interpretation that prevented Ability Housing from providing the housing at issue, designate a fair housing compliance officer, provide Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act training for City employees, and pay a $25,000 civil penalty to the government. In a separate settlement the City agreed to pay $400,000 to Ability Housing and $25,000 to Disability Rights Florida, an advocate for people with disabilities, and to establish a $1.5 million grant to develop permanent supportive housing in the City for people with disabilities.
Case Open Date:
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
United States v. City of Jacksonville (M.D. Fla.)
Civil Rights Division
Civil Rights - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
USAO - Florida, Middle
Updated July 5, 2017