Skip to main content

Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents




CIVIL ACTION No. 96-C-4996



  1. This action is brought by the United States of America to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
  3. Defendant City of Waukegan is a governmental subdivision of the State of Illinois, located in Lake County, within the Northern District of Illinois. Waukegan is governed by a Mayor and a City Council.
  4. Defendant Donald Weakly is the director of governmental services for the City of Waukegan. This action is brought against defendant Weakly in his individual capacity, as well as in his official capacity.
  5. Defendant Noah Murphy is the building commissioner and oversees Waukegan's building department, which administers and enforces Waukegan's Property Maintenance and Housing Code ("the Housing Code"). Under defendant Murphy's overall supervision, code inspectors employed by the building department inspect residents, homes and issue citations for violations of the Housing Code. This action is brought against defendant Murphy in his individual capacity, as well as in his official capacity.
  6. Waukegan's Hispanic population has increased substantially in recent years. At the time of the 1980 Census, Waukegan's population included 9,311 Hispanics, comprising 13.1311 of the city's 67,653 residents. By the time of the 1990 Census, Waukegan's population included 16,443 Hispanics, comprising 23.701 of the city's 69,392 residents.
  7. Hispanic households in Waukegan are more likely than non-Hispanic white households to include persons related by blood or marriage in addition to a husband, wife, and their children. According to the 1990 census, for every 100 Hispanic households in Waukegan there are almost 57 of these "other relatives" (e.g., a householder's siblings or grandchildren) living in the same household with nuclear families. For every 100 non-Hispanic white households, there are just under 8 of these other relatives living in the same household with nuclear families.
  8. City officials repeatedly have expressed their animosity toward the new Hispanic residents of Waukegan, and declared that they intended to prevent Hispanics from "taking over" Waukegan. Aware of the family composition of Hispanic households as described in paragraph 7 above, city officials have stated their opposition to extended families combining their resources to live in dwellings together.
  9. On or about June 6, 1994, Waukegan revised its Housing Code by enacting Ordinance 94-0-78. The definition of a "family" in Section PM 202.0 of the revised Housing Code, as applied by the city, permits only parents, their children, and no more than two additional relatives to live together in a single-family dwelling unit, regardless of its size. This ordinance was enacted for the purpose, and has the effect, of limiting the ability of Hispanic families to live together in the same household.
  10. Prior to the enactment of the ordinance, the building department's attorney advised in writing that the United States Supreme Court had held that family composition restrictions similar to those described in Ordinance 94-0-78 violate the Constitution of the United States. The building department attorney made specific reference to Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494 (1977).
  11. To the extent that city officials were concerned about overcrowding of dwellings, Section PM 202.0 of Ordinance 94-0-78 is not an appropriate method of addressing that issue. Fair and evenhanded enforcement of the provision would permit overcrowded conditions in some applications, while in other applications would prohibit families from living together even if a dwelling was not overcrowded.
  12. The Housing Code has not been enforced in a fair and evenhanded manner. Rather, city officials, primarily defendants Weakly and Murphy, have targeted Hispanic households for strict enforcement of the Housing Code. On numerous occasions, city officials have ordered Hispanic families to vacate their homes because of their family compositions, even though the dwellings in which they were residing were of sufficient size to accommodate the families. Building department records provided by the city to the United States reveal that all of the persons evicted for violating the family composition restriction have been Hispanic.
  13. Contrary to the normal practices of the building department, homes of Hispanic families have been re-inspected when no violations were found initially, and Hispanic families residing in compliance with the Housing Code have been required to execute affidavits pledging future compliance.
  14. The city's purpose in enacting the family composition restriction in Ordinance 94-0-78, as well as defendants' purpose in enforcing this restriction and other provisions of the Housing Code, has been to limit the number of persons of Hispanic origin residing within the boundaries of the city.
  15. The actions of defendants described above have:
    1. made dwellings unavailable to persons because of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
    2. discriminated against persons on the basis of national origin in the provision of services in connection with the rental or sale of a dwelling in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);
    3. made statements indicating a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on national origin with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
    4. interfered with persons in their exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of their having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of their having aided or encouraged other persons in the exercise or enjoyment of rights protected by the Fair Housing Act, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
  16. As described above, defendants, conduct constitutes:
    1. a pattern and practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.; and
    2. a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
  17. Persons who have been victims of defendants, unlawful actions are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i) and are entitled to be compensated by defendants for the injuries caused by the unlawful conduct.
  18. Defendants' unlawful actions were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of others.

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:

  1. Declares that the totality of defendants, policies and practices, including the enactment and enforcement of the family composition requirements of ordinance 94-0-78, constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq;
  2. Enjoins defendant City of Waukegan, its officials, agents, employees, and all other persons in active concert or participation with it from continuing to enforce the family composition requirements of Ordinance 94-0-78 and from otherwise discriminating on account of national origin in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq;
  3. Requires such actions by defendants as may be necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by defendants, discriminatory actions to the position they would have occupied but for defendants' discriminatory actions;
  4. Requires defendants to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to prevent the recurrence of any discriminatory conduct in the future and to eliminate, to the extent practicable, the effects of defendants, unlawful housing practices;
  5. Awards such damages as would fully compensate each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory actions for the injury caused by defendants, discriminatory actions, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d) (1) (B);
  6. Awards each person aggrieved by defendants, discriminatory actions punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of defendants' conduct pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d) (1) (B); and
  7. Assesses civil penalties against defendants in amounts of money authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.

The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.


United States Attorney

Assistant Attorney General

Assistant United States Attorney
UNited States Attorney's Office
Dirksen Federal Building
Fifth Floor
219 S. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 353-1857

Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035
(202) 514-4739

Document Filed: August 13, 1996. > >

Updated August 6, 2015