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Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents



ELDERLY, INC., et al.,


Case No. 94-C-1156





Case No. 97-C-104





    These consolidated actions allege, in pertinent part, that the City of Milwaukee ("City") denied a zoning change to permit the construction and operation of a housing facility and meal site, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., by discriminating on the basis of race or national origin against American Indians.

    On October 17, 1994, the Indian Council of the Elderly, Inc., the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and the School Sisters of St. Francis (together, the "private plaintiffs") brought this suit against the City pursuant to Section 813 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3613, as well as other civil rights statutes. The private plaintiffs allege that the City denied a zoning change necessary to permit the construction and operation of a senior project that was to include forty-nine apartment units of low-income senior citizen housing and a meal site for American Indian and other senior citizens (the "senior project"), because of the race or national origin of the prospective residents. The senior project was to be situated at 6031 West Howard Avenue, in the Eleventh Aldermanic District of Milwaukee.

    On February 4, 1997, after referral by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a), the United States brought a related action. Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act authorizes the Attorney General to initiate a lawsuit in federal court whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that any group of persons has been denied any rights granted by the Fair Housing Act and such denial raises an issue of general public importance. Like the private plaintiffs, the United States alleges that the City violated the Fair Housing Act by denying the rezoning request necessary to construct the senior project because of the race or national origin of the prospective residents of the senior project.

    More specifically, the private plaintiffs and the United States allege that the alderwoman for the Eleventh District vigorously opposed the senior project and actively organized neighborhood opposition to the private plaintiffs' rezoning application, and that race and/or national origin considerations were motivating factors in the opposition, and, ultimately, in the decision by the Milwaukee Common Council to deny the rezoning request.

    In its answer to the complaints, the City denied that it engaged in discrimination on the basis of race and/or national origin or otherwise violated the Fair Housing Act. Following extensive pre-trial discovery, the parties have engaged in lengthy negotiations and have voluntarily agreed that this consolidated case should be resolved without a trial or adjudication on the merits.

    Accordingly, as indicated by the signatures hereto, the parties have agreed to entry of this Consent Order. After reviewing the terms of this Order, the Court concludes that the entry of this Consent Order comports with the Fair Housing Act and federal law and is appropriate under the circumstances.

    Therefore, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED as follows:



    The City, its employees, agents and successors, are hereby enjoined from:

    1. Denying or otherwise making dwellings unavailable to persons because of race or national origin;
    2. Discriminating in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the sale or rental of dwellings, or in the provision of facilities and services in connection therewith, because of race or national origin;
    3. Making statements with respect to the sale or rental of dwellings that indicate a preference or limitation, or discrimination on the basis of race or national origin; or
    4. Engaging in any other discriminatory housing practice prohibited by 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.



    The City shall take the following steps to afford the private plaintiffs the opportunity to develop and operate the senior project:


    1. As a symbol of its good faith in attempting to resolve this controversy, the City has taken all necessary steps to change the zoning of the parcel of land located at 6031 West Howard Avenue, such that the construction, development and operation of the senior project could be undertaken at that location. The Milwaukee Common Council's passage of File No. 971927, a copy of which is attached, demonstrates compliance with the requirement to rezone 6031 West Howard Avenue.


    2. Notwithstanding Section III.A, above, the private plaintiffs shall attempt in good faith to acquire, construct and develop the senior project on a mutually agreeable alternative site located within Armour Park, pursuant to the terms of an Intergovernmental Cooperation and Development Agreement -- Indian Council of the Elderly Project (the "Development Agreement"), a copy of which is attached.


    3. The private plaintiffs shall take no steps to develop the senior project at 6031 West Howard Avenue unless the attempt to acquire, construct and develop the housing component of the senior project at the alternative site cannot be undertaken pursuant to the terms of the Development Agreement.


    4. The specific actions required of each party related to the acquisition, construction, and development of the senior project at the alternative site located within Armour Park shall be governed by the Development Agreement. All parties shall exercise their best efforts to fulfill their obligations under the Development Agreement as expeditiously as possible. In particular, the City will proceed to coordinate and initiate the legislative processes necessary to complete the detachment of the Armour Park site from the City of Greenfield, annexation of said site by the City, rezoning of said site by the City, and approval of certified survey maps so that all other related project work can be accomplished as soon as possible.




    1. Within thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this Consent Order and upon receipt of all required releases of claims, the City shall pay directly, or deposit with Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation, a total of $310,000 to be distributed as directed by the private plaintiffs.


    2. The parties acknowledge that the City has previously paid Jim and Marion Blaser, the sum of $30,000, as part of the settlement of this lawsuit.




    1. Within thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this Consent Order, the City shall file with counsel for the United States (1) and with counsel for the private plaintiffs a report setting forth its efforts to comply with that portion of this Consent Order relating to implementation of the Development Agreement. After the initial report, the City shall file this report at least every six months until the City has satisfied all its obligations under the Development Agreement.


    2. During the period in which this Consent Order is in effect, the City shall retain all documents related to its compliance with this Consent Order and its implementation of the Development Agreement, including but not limited to correspondence, records, reports, surveys, studies (whether performed by agencies of the City or independent contractors), ordinances, and minutes and transcripts of hearings. Upon reasonable notice to the City, counsel for the United States and counsel for the private plaintiffs shall have the opportunity to inspect and copy any of these documents, except for those which are privileged from discovery.



    Upon any failure by the City, whether willful or otherwise, other than excused delays authorized by the Development Agreement, to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Consent Order, or in the event of any other material act by the City violating any provision of this Consent Order, the United States or private plaintiffs may move this Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including but not limited to an order requiring performance of an act, deeming an act to have been performed or awarding any damages, costs and/or attorneys' fees which may be occasioned by the City's violation of this Consent Order. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the parties shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding the interpretation of, or compliance with, this Consent Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.



    The Consent Order shall be in effect and the Court shall retain jurisdiction over this matter for two (2) years from the date of the Order's entry or until six (6) months after the date on which the housing component of the senior project is certified by the City as ready for first occupancy, whichever comes later,

    although any party may move the Court to extend the period in which the Order is in effect for cause.


ORDERED this _[31st]_ day of _[May]_, 2001.




The undersigned agree to and request the entry of this Consent Order:

For the private plaintiffs: For The United States
Acting Assistant Attorney General

Attorney at Law
Squires II, Suite 190
16655 West Bluemound road
Brookfield, WI 53005
(262) 780-9838

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
(202) 353-9706

For the City of Milwakuee:

Assistant City Attorney
800 City Hall
200 East Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 286-2601

Document Signed: May 31, 2001. > >

Updated June 14, 2023