Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
WESTERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

CITY OF TOLEDO, OHIO; and
TOLEDO CITY COUNCIL,
     Defendants.

________________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States pursuant to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. ("the Act").
  2. This court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
  3. Defendant City of Toledo is a municipality organized under the laws of Ohio, with all powers provided by the constitution and the laws of the Ohio.
  4. Defendant Toledo City Council is an elected body whose duties and powers include policy formation, planning, lawmaking, and law enforcement for the City of Toledo.
  5. The City of Toledo exercises zoning authority over land within its boundaries. The Toledo City Council is the governmental body which enacts, implements, and enforces the City's zoning authority. The City, through its City Council, has enacted and enforced zoning regulations set forth in the Toledo Municipal Code, which includes, at Part Eleven, regulations governing planning and zoning within the City of Toledo.
  6. The Toledo Municipal Code provides, in part, that living arrangements for persons with a "handicap" as that term is defined by the Fair Housing Act are "functional families" and, along with "traditional families," are permitted uses in Single-Family Residence Districts. Toledo Municipal Code, §§ 1103.16, 1117.01.
  7. Section 1117.01(i) of the Toledo Municipal Code creates the following spacing, distribution, and numerical restrictions with regard to structures occupied by "functional families" that are group homes for persons with disabilities:
    1. they may not be located within the following distances from another such structure:
      1. within 990 feet within the same block;
      2. within 530 feet outside the block;
      3. within 1,320 feet along the same street, on either side of such street.
    2. the total number of such facilities are limited to one-fourth of one percent of the total occupied single-family dwelling units within certain, previously delineated areas of the city, known as planning communities.
  8. The spacing, distribution, and numerical restrictions set forth in Paragraph 7 above impose prohibitive zoning restrictions on dwellings for "functional families" which include persons with disabilities that are not imposed on "functional families" which do not include persons with disabilities.
  9. The structures or facilities subject to the spacing, distribution, and numerical restrictions set forth in Paragraph 7 above, are "dwellings" within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  10. Advanced Living, Inc., operates an adult group home for up to twelve elderly persons with disabilities at 3710 Talmadge Road, Toledo, Ohio. The structure is a "single-family dwelling" use as defined by the Toledo Municipal Code. Advanced Living is licensed to operate as an adult group home at the Talmadge Road home by the Ohio Department of Health. The single-family home is within a Single-family Residence District. Advanced Living provides accommodations and assistance to elderly persons with disabilities, such as help with bathing, cooking, dressing and recreation in a residential atmosphere.
  11. Family Tree, LTD, operates an adult family home for up to five elderly persons with disabilities at 3625 Christie Street, Toledo, Ohio. The structure is a "single-family dwelling" use as defined by the Toledo Municipal Code. Family Tree is licensed to operate as an adult family home at the Christie Street home by the Ohio Department of Health. The single-family home is located within a neighborhood zoned as a Single-family Residence District. Advanced Living provides accommodations and assistance to persons with disabilities, such as help with bathing, cooking, dressing and recreation in a residential atmosphere.
  12. The homes identified in Paragraphs 11 and 12, above, are "dwellings" within the meaning of section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  13. The elderly persons residing at the homes identified in Paragraphs 11 and 12, above, are "handicapped" within the meaning of section 802(h) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
  14. The defendants required that Family Tree and Advanced Living obtain Special Use Permits from the Toledo City Council. Family Tree applied for a Special Use Permit in March 1996, and Advanced Living did the same in September 1996. They were required to obtained Special Use Permits solely because their occupants are persons with disabilities.
  15. The Toledo City Council, and its various committees, held several hearings regarding Advanced Living and Family Tree's Special Use Permit applications. At several of these City Council meetings, the Toledo City Attorney advised the Council that denying Advanced Living and Family Tree's Special Use Permit applications would violate the Fair Housing Act.
  16. The City of Toledo, through its City Council, made housing unavailable for Family Tree and Advanced Living's current and prospective elderly residents on account of their disability when it denied both homes Special Use Permits.
  17. Family Tree and Advanced Living were subsequently granted special use permits by the City Council only after each filed an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio challenging the City's actions.
  18. On its face, the spacing, distribution, and numerical restrictions imposed by the Toledo Municipal Code treat housing for persons with disabilities differently than housing for persons without disabilities and makes dwellings unavailable to persons on account of "handicap," in violation of section 804(f) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f).
  19. As enforced by the defendants, the spacing, distribution, and numerical restrictions imposed by the Toledo Municipal Code treat housing for persons with disabilities differently than housing for persons without disabilities and make dwellings unavailable to persons on account of "handicap," in violation of section 804(f) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f).
  20. The above-described conduct of the defendants constitutes:
    1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.; and
    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
  21. Advanced Living, Inc., Family Tree, Inc., the persons with disabilities residing in those homes, and other persons who may have been the victims of the defendants' discriminatory practices are "aggrieved persons" as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and may have suffered economic loss, emotional distress, and the loss of their civil rights as a result of the defendants' conduct as described herein.
  22. The defendants' discriminatory conduct was 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 spacing, distribution, and numerical restrictions set forth in Section 1117.01(i) of the Toledo Zoning Code, as described in Paragraph 7 above, violate the Fair Housing Act;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from enforcing the spacing, distribution, and numerical restrictions set forth in Section 1117.01(i) of the Toledo Zoning Code, as described in Paragraph 7 above, in a manner that discriminates against persons with disabilities;
  3. Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from discriminating on the basis of handicap with regard to any zoning action;
  4. Requires such action by the defendants as may be necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by their discriminatory housing practice to the position they would have occupied but for their discriminatory conduct;
  5. Awards such damages as would fully compensate aggrieved persons for damages caused by the defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
  6. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants in an amount 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.

Janet Reno
Attorney General

Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General

Joan A. Magagna
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

Robert S. Berman
Clay G. Guthridge
Attorneys
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035
(202) 514-6161

Emily M. Sweeney
United States Attorney

Holly Sydlow
Assistant United States Attorney > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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