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Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents




Civil Action No. 93C-1805
Judge Zagel
Magistrate Judge Rosemond




The United States initiated this action on March 25, 1993, with the filing of its Complaint against the Town of Cicero, Illinois, among others, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 ("the Act").(1) The Complaint alleges that the Town of Cicero ("the Town" or "Defendant") has engaged in policies and practices that discriminate against prospective purchasers of residential property in Cicero on the basis of familial status and national origin.

If this case were to proceed to trial, the United States believes that it would be able to establish the following facts:

  1. The Town of Cicero, Illinois, is a political subdivision established and operated as a municipal corporation under the laws of the State of Illinois. The Town's eastern and northern boundaries border directly on the City of Chicago.

  2. In 1991 and 1992, the Town developed a Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS), Fiscal Year 1992. The CHAS makes the following declarations:
    1. "In 1980 of the total 61,232 persons residing in Cicero, 5,246 were [H]ispanic. By 1990 the total population increased to 67,436 while the total [H]ispanic population increased to 24,931." CHAS at 44.
    2. "It is believed that in addition to having traditionally large families, Hispanics also live in extended family arrangements. And while there is no data to form a cause and effect relationship, the corresponding increase in population has occurred at a time when there is a rise in the number of school aged children and an increase over the past twelve months in the number of over crowding complaints received by the Town." CHAS at 55.
    3. "Over the next five years the only significant changes foreseen are in the inflationary increase in property prices and an increase in minority population as well as overcrowding." CHAS at 55.
    4. "Population in general is also expected to continue to grow and continue to shift to an increased percentage of persons of [H]ispanic origin." CHAS at 55.
    5. "By [1990] the Town had adopted a no population growth policy . . . ." CHAS at 18.

  3. On December 23, 1991, the Town amended section 19-81(a) of the Cicero Health and Sanitation Code ("section 19-81(a)"), which limits the number of persons who may occupy a residential dwelling based on the size of the dwelling.
    1. Section 19-81(a) requires that a dwelling contain at least 200 square feet of space for the first occupant and at least 150 additional square feet of floor space for each additional occupant. Section 19-81(a). As example, pursuant to this standard, a family of five would require a dwelling of at least 800 square feet of floor space.
    2. Under the Building Officials & Code Administrators International, Inc. ("BOCA") National Property Maintenance Code in effect in 1992, a three-bedroom dwelling for a family of five should contain a living room/dining room area totalling 200 square feet, kitchen of 50 square feet, and sleeping rooms totalling 270 square feet, or a grand total of 520 square feet. BOCA National Property Maintenance Code §§ PM-405.3, PM-405.5, and PM-405.6 (1990 ed.).

  4. From November of 1992 until December of 1992, the Town enforced section 19-81 against persons purchasing residential dwellings by requiring buyers of residential dwellings to sign under oath a document setting forth the occupancy limit of the dwelling and agreeing to abide by the limit, and refusing to issue a Certificate of Compliance and transfer stamps to buyers who refused to sign the document or who intended to occupy dwellings with a number of persons exceeding the level permitted by section 19-81. No enforcement actions were taken against existing residents in the Town unless a complaint was received.

  5. In 1992, the majority of existing residents of the Town were non-Hispanic and white.

  6. Most of the potential purchasers who were affected by the Town's occupancy ordinance were Hispanic families with children.

    The Town denies the United States' allegations. The parties, however, desire to avoid costly and protracted litigation and agree that this dispute should be resolved without an evidentiary hearing. Therefore, the parties have waived a hearing and the entry of findings of fact and conclusions of law and have agreed to the entry of this Consent Order, as indicated by the signatures appearing below. The parties stipulate that the entry of this Consent Order shall not be deemed to be an admission by either party of the facts alleged herein or any of the facts alleged in the complaint filed in this case except to the extent that the facts have been admitted in an answer to the complaint. The parties agree that any future violations of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, that also violate this Consent Order shall be deemed to be subsequent violations of the Act, including for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C).

Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED:

  1. Injunctive Relief

  1. The Town, its agents, employees, successors, and all persons in active concert or participation with it in the enactment and enforcement of its zoning and land use regulations are permanently enjoined from enforcing Cicero Health and Sanitation Code § 19-81(a) or any ordinance implementing the occupancy limits imposed by section 19-81(a).

  2. The Town, its agents, employees, successors, and all persons in active concert or participation with it are permanently enjoined from engaging in any activity or practice, or from maintaining any policy or procedure, that discriminates because of familial status or because of national origin in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.

  3. Within twenty (20) days of the entry of this Consent Order, the Town shall notify, by mail, all persons identified by the United States on a list provided to the Town who signed a document limiting the number of occupants of his or her dwelling based on section 19-81 that section 19-81 and the occupancy limit set forth on the document is no longer valid. The Town shall also provide notice to all Town residents through a mass mailing that section 19-81 is no longer valid. Such mailing may accompany tax bills, water bills, or other similar regular mailing to Town residents. These notices shall be written in both the English and Spanish languages. The parties have agreed to the contents of this Notice, attached hereto as Attachment A.

  1. Nondiscriminatory Policies and Procedures

The Town may promulgate, but is not required to promulgate, an ordinance limiting occupancy in dwellings. Plaintiff shall consider any occupancy ordinance that the Town so promulgates to be a "reasonable occupancy code" pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3607(b)(1) if the ordinance allows at least as many persons as would be allowed under section PM-405 of the 1996 Building Officials & Code Administrators International, Inc. ("BOCA") National Property Maintenance Code; provided that the Town may adopt a more restrictive occupancy ordinance if permitted by an amendment to the Fair Housing Act, HUD regulation, or decision of the United States Supreme Court or the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit interpreting the Fair Housing Act, provided that the time to seek Supreme Court review of the Seventh Circuit decision has expired. The Town shall notify counsel for the United States within ten (10) days after the enactment of any ordinance or provision that places any limits or restrictions on the number or types of persons who may occupy a residential dwelling. The notification shall be in writing and include a certified copy of the ordinance or provision.(2)

  1. Record-Keeping Requirements

During the term of this Consent Order, the Town shall retain all records and reports that are contained in the files maintained by the Building Department for individual addresses. The Town shall notify the United States sixty (60) days in advance of its intention to destroy any other records, reports, applications for municipal approval of sales transactions, completed forms relating to occupancy of dwellings, including the Town's disposition of applications for municipal approval of sales transactions, and correspondence between the Town and sellers, prospective purchasers, and/or real estate agents, lawyers, or other representatives of sellers or prospective buyers, relating to a proposed sales transaction for a residential dwelling that are not retained in the records for a particular address. This notice shall include samples of the types of documents the Town intends to destroy.

Upon reasonable notice to the Town, the United States shall have the right to inspect and copy any of the records described in this Section, as well as any other documents relevant to the Town's compliance with this Consent Order. The United States shall pay the Town its actual and reasonable costs associated with the copying of any documents requested by the United States pursuant to this Section, or, in the alternative, arrange for copying of documents at its own expense. The parties shall attempt to minimize any inconvenience during the inspection and copying of such records.

  1. Reporting to the United States

  1. The Town of Cicero shall notify counsel for the United States in writing within thirty (30) days of the receipt by the Town of any written complaint alleging housing discrimination by the Town of Cicero. This notification shall be made in the form attached hereto as Attachment B, shall indicate any action taken by the Town in response to the complaint, and shall be accompanied by all pertinent documents. This notification shall include a copy of the complaint, any documents filed with the complaint, and any written response to the complaint prepared by the Town.

  2. Beginning six (6) months from the date of entry of this Order and continuing every six (6) months thereafter throughout the duration of this Order, the Town shall provide the following documents to counsel for the United States:
    1. A copy of all statements signed pursuant to Section V of this Order during the preceding six-month period;
    2. Copies of all other complaints of housing discrimination other than those described in Section IV.A received by the Town; and
    3. A Certificate of Publication for all advertising conducted pursuant to this Order.

  1. Mandatory Education and Training

  1. Within thirty (30) days after the date of entry of this Order, the Town shall provide training on the requirements of the amended Fair Housing Act to Town officials and employees in the following job classifications or performing job duties related to: Building Commissioner; Director of Neighborhood Conservation; Building Inspector(s); Blight Inspector(s); Code Enforcement Inspector(s); Building Department Secretary; Building Department Clerk; Director of Electrical Department; Electrical Inspector(s); Town Clerk and employees of the Office of the Town Clerk performing the duties described in Section VI of this Consent Order. The training shall be conducted by Interfaith Housing Center, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL 60093-2308, 847-501-5760. Any expenses associated with this training shall be borne by the Town. All persons attending the training program pursuant to the requirements of this Section shall have their attendance certified in writing by the person conducting the training.

  2. Within thirty (30) days after the date of entry of this Order, the Town shall conduct and complete the following described educational program for any of its employees and agents with responsibilities relating to zoning or land use regulations who do not receive training pursuant to Section V.A of this Order. Such program shall include:
    1. Furnishing to each such employee or agent a copy of this Order, and informing each such person, in person, of the duties of the Town and its employees and agents pursuant to the Order; and
    2. Securing the signed statement appearing at Attachment C from each such employee and agent indicating that he or she has received, read, and understands this Consent Order and the policy of nondiscrimination mandated by it and further understands that violation of this Order may result in sanctions against them by the Town.

  3. For the duration of this Order, each new employee or agent of the Town who begins one of the positions described in Section V.A or V.B shall be given the training required by Section V.A or V.B as appropriate within thirty days after beginning the position.

  4. The statements prescribed by this Section of the Order shall be maintained in the office of the Town Clerk for the duration of this Decree.

  1. Municipal Fair Housing and Counseling Office

  1. The Office of the Town Clerk of Cicero shall have the responsibility to receive complaints of alleged housing discrimination. The Town Clerk shall refer all such complaints to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

  2. The Town shall insure that employees who are able to converse competently in Spanish as well as English are available within the Office of the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk shall have available, in both English and Spanish, blank HUD complaint forms (HUD Form 903) and the HUD publication Fair Housing: It's Your Right (Vivienda Justa: Es su Derecho). Copies of these materials are to be made freely available to anyone, upon request, without charge.

  3. The Office of the Town Clerk shall have available for public inspection copies of this Order and of the portions of the Town's municipal ordinance relating to occupancy of dwellings and safety requirements of dwellings.

  1. Advertisement of Cicero as an Open Community

  1. Within thirty (30) days after the date of entry of this Consent Order, the Town of Cicero shall implement the advertising program specified in Attachment D to this Consent Order. The text of the advertising is set forth on Attachment E. The Town shall ensure that the United States receives a Certificate of Publisher regarding this advertising program within ten (10) days of its availability.

  2. Within thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this Order, the Town shall place in a prominent and conspicuous location in the Town Hall in the area where applicants for municipal approval of housing sales transactions acquire information and forms from the Town, fair housing posters forms HUD-928.1 and 928.1A. The Town shall send a photograph showing placement of the posters within thirty (30) days of posting.

  1. Compensation of Aggrieved Persons

  1. The Town agrees to compensate all allegedly aggrieved persons of Defendant's discriminatory conduct identified by the United States as provided herein.

  2. The Town's aggregate liability for compensation of all aggrieved persons under this Section shall be limited to $60,000.00 plus any interest accruing in the account. Within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall deposit in an interest-bearing escrow account in Harris Chicago Community Bank, Cicero Branch, Harris Trust and Savings Bank, the sum of $60,000.00 for the purpose of compensating any aggrieved persons who have been the victims of Defendants' alleged discriminatory housing practices. Defendant's counsel shall have signature authority over the account. Defendant shall pay any costs associated with maintaining this account.

  3. Within sixty (60) days of the date of entry of this Order, and twice again during each of the next two months, Defendant shall publish a Notice to Potential Victims of Housing Discrimination ("Notice") in El DiaThe Lawndale News, and the the Chicago Tribune. The Town shall notify counsel for the United States in writing of the date on which the last such notice was published within ten (10) days of its publication and shall at that time also provide copies of the Notices as published.

  4. Each Notice shall set forth a summary of the legal and evidentiary contentions of the United States and a general statement of the relief provided under this Consent Order. Each Notice shall also contain a statement that the United States seeks information from any persons who claim to have been subjected to familial status and/or national origin discrimination in connection with applying for or obtaining municipal approval to purchase housing in the Town of Cicero. Each Notice shall invite such persons to contact counsel for the United States concerning their complaints within thirty (30) days of the publication of the Notice. The advertisements shall be three columns by six inches. The text of the advertisement is set forth in Attachment F.

  5. The Town shall permit representatives of the United States to review any records in its possession or control or the possession or control of any of its employees, agents, or representatives that the United States believes to be useful in identifying persons who may be entitled to relief under this Order. Upon reasonable notice, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to make this inspection on any business day as early as the day after entry of this Order.

  6. In order to receive compensation, each aggrieved person must submit a Proof of Claim in the form of Attachment G made under oath. The Proof of Claim shall detail the circumstances surrounding the alleged discrimination against him or her and the damages that he or she claims to have suffered.

  7. At the end of ninety (90) days from the date that the last Notice is sent or advertised, the United States shall submit to outside counsel for the Town copies of all Proofs of Claim and any other documents the United States deems relevant, along with a memorandum setting forth the United States' determination of damages for each aggrieved person. All information submitted to outside counsel for the Town in connection with this Consent Order shall remain confidential. This information shall be protected as provided by the Protective Order in this action signed by the Court on June 13, 1994, and shall not be disclosed by Defendant's outside counsel to any other person, including Defendant, or any other counsel, except as necessary to contest a payment as set forth in Section VIII.H. Within thirty (30) days after payment of the last claimant, all confidential documents and materials obtained from the United States (including copies thereof), with the exception of the memorandum setting forth the determination of damages, shall be destroyed or returned to the United States.

  8. Within ninety (90) days of receipt of copies of the Proofs of Claim and the United States memorandum, as described above, the Town may submit to the United States a response to the United States' memorandum. The United States shall, after review and consideration of the Town's memorandum, within 30 days, notify Defendant of its determination as to the appropriate award to be paid to each complainant. The decision of the United States shall be final; provided that if the United States determines that any individual or family group takes more than $15,000.00 from the fund, the Town may seek review of that amount by the Court. In that event, the United States and Defendants shall submit their respective arguments and proposed awards to the Court for arbitration. The Court may assign an arbitrator to decide this matter. It shall be assumed for the purposes of arbitration that the ordinance is unlawful, that the claimant was adversely affected by the ordinance, and that the claimant suffered damages that were caused by enforcement of the ordinance. The claimant shall be awarded either the amount requested by the United States or the amount requested by the Town. The parties waive any right to appeal the arbitration award. No claimant shall be eligible to receive compensation under this Consent Order without first signing a Release in the form of Attachment H releasing Defendant from all liability related to the issues raised in the United States' complaint. Within ten (10) days of receipt of the United States' determination and releases signed by the claimants, or in cases in which the Town contests the amount, ten (10) days of the arbitration award, the Town's outside counsel shall issue checks in the appropriate amounts to claimants.

  9. If less than $60,000.00 plus accrued interest is paid to aggrieved persons, the remaining amount shall be paid to Interfaith Housing Center, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL 60093-2308, 847-501-5760 to further fair housing in the Cicero area.

  1. Duration of Consent Order

  1. The duration of the Town's obligations under this Consent Order shall be for a period of four (4) years beginning from the date of entry of this Order.

  2. At anytime prior to sixty (60) days after receipt by the United States of the Town's last report pursuant to Section IV, the United States may file a motion with the Court for an extension of this Order. If such a motion is filed, the Court shall hold a hearing and the burden shall be on the United States to demonstrate why this Order should be extended. If the United States fails to meet its burden, or if no motion is timely filed (except for good cause shown), this Order shall terminate forthwith and this case shall be dismissed.

  3. This Order may be extended by agreement of the parties.

  1. Remedies for Non-Performance

  1. In the event that the Town, whether willful or otherwise, violates Section I of this Order, each and every time that the Town violates Section I of this Order, the United States may move this Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including, but not limited to, an Order requiring performance of such act or deeming such act to have been performed, and an award of any damages, costs, and attorneys' fees that may have been occasioned by the Town's violation or failure to perform.

  2. The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of this Order upon a motion to reopen the case for such purpose.

  1. Time for Performance
  1. Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Order may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.

ORDERED this 3rd day of December, 1997.


The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Order:

For the Defendant:

Mark H. Sterk
Odelson & Sterk
3318 West 95th Street
Evergreen Park, IL 60642
(708) 424-5678

For the United States:

Robert S. Berman
Deputy Chief
Clay G. Guthridge
Sunny E. Pietrafesa
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
(202) 514-4746

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

1. Pursuant to stipulation of the parties, on August 20, 1993, the Court dismissed all of the defendants named in the United States' Complaint in this case, except for the Town of Cicero.

2. All documents or other communications required by this Order to be sent to counsel for the United States shall be addressed as follows: Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, D.C. 20035-5998, Attn: DJ# 175-23-564. > >

Updated May 31, 2023