Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No. 93C-1805
Judge Zagel

TOWN OF CICERO, ILLINOIS;
CICERO BOARD OF TRUSTEES;
BETTY LOREN, RUSSELL SPIREK,
RICHARD SMETANA, FRANK
MALTESE, LEO FREDERICK,
JOHN KOCIOLKO, JOSEPH
DE CHICIO, and GERALD
RESNICK, in their capacities
as members of Cicero's
Board of Trustees,
     Defendants.

_____________________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 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. The Town of Cicero, Illinois ("Town"), is a political subdivision established and operated as a municipal corporation under the laws of the State of Illinois. It is located in Cook County, within the Northern District of Illinois. The Town's eastern and northern boundaries border directly on the City of Chicago.
  4. The Town of Cicero is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of eight members, including the Town President. Defendant Betty Loren is the interim Town president and a member of the Cicero Board of Trustees. Defendants Russell Spirek, Richard Smetana, Frank Maltese, Leo Frederick, John Kociolko, Joseph De Chicio, and Gerald Resnick are members of the Cicero Board of Trustees. These persons are named as defendants in their capacities as Town Trustees.
  5. Defendant Gerald Resnick is also the Building Commissioner of the Town of Cicero. In that capacity, he is responsible for enforcing certain laws, ordinances, and regulations relating to the use and occupancy of buildings, including residential dwellings, located within the Town boundaries.
  6. At the time of the 1970 Census, the Town of Cicero had a total population of 66,058. Virtually all of the Town's population at that time was white and non-Hispanic. The Census counted only 5 black persons and 917 persons of Spanish origin.
  7. The 1980 Census revealed that additional black persons and persons of Spanish origin had moved into the Town of Cicero. The Census counted 61,232 persons, of whom approximately 61 (.1 percent) were black, and of whom 5,271 (8.6 percent) were of Spanish origin.
  8. The 1990 Census revealed a substantial increase since 1980 in the Hispanic population of the Town of Cicero. In 1990, the Town had a total population of 67,436, of whom 24,931 (37 percent) were Hispanic, and of whom 141 (.2 percent) were black. Since the 1990 Census, the influx of Hispanic families into the Town has continued, and a substantial majority of families seeking to move into the Town since the Census have been Hispanic. Real estate professionals estimate that, in 1992, prior to the discriminatory actions challenged in this lawsuit, approximately 80 percent of persons purchasing residential dwellings within the Town have been Hispanic.
  9. Defendants have been aware of the demographic changes described above. Defendants believe that Hispanic families have a larger number of children than white families and that Hispanic households are accordingly larger than white families. Acting on this belief, the defendants, on December 23, 1991, sought to exclude these Hispanic families from residence in the Town by enacting an ordinance that limits the number of persons who may occupy a residential dwelling based on the size of the dwelling.
  10. The occupancy ordinance requires a minimum of 200 square feet of space for the first occupant and 150 square feet of space for each additional occupant, and it excludes certain portions of a dwelling in this space calculation formula. The ordinance is unduly restrictive -- more restrictive than model codes utilized in most areas of the country -- and most applications do not permit the normal use for which a dwelling was intended. For example, in many applications the Town does not permit two persons for each bedroom in a dwelling.
  11. While the ordinance was enacted in December of 1991, the Town did not begin to enforce the ordinance strictly until November of 1992. The occupancy requirements are enforced only against persons purchasing residential dwellings within the boundaries of the Town. The purpose and effect of this enforcement scheme is to ensure that the restrictive standard is not applied to existing residents of the Town, a majority of whom are non-Hispanic and white.
  12. Through the enforcement of the occupancy ordinance, the defendants have begun to achieve their objective of preventing, or discouraging, Hispanic families with children from becoming residents of the Town. The defendants have refused to issue the necessary approval for occupancy of dwellings by a number of Hispanic families who have contracted to purchase dwellings within the Town. In each instance, the defendants relied on the occupancy ordinance to exclude a Hispanic family with children even though the dwelling was large enough to accommodate the family. On information and belief, all or nearly all of the potential purchasers who have been prohibited from purchasing a dwelling in the town because of this ordinance have been Hispanic families with children.
  13. The defendants' enactment and enforcement of the occupancy standards as described above has made housing unavailable because of national origin, and also constitutes discrimination in terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of dwellings because of national origin, in violation of Section 804(a) and Section 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. {3604(a) and 42 U.S.C. {3604(b).
  14. The defendants' enactment and enforcement of the occupancy standards as described above has made housing unavailable because of familial status, and also constitutes discrimination in terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of dwellings because of familial status, in violation of Section 804(a) and Section 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. {3604(a) and 42 U.S.C. {3604(b).
  15. The 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 (the Fair Housing Act), 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 (the Fair Housing Act), 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.
  16. The defendants' discriminatory practices have caused injury to persons seeking to purchase, sell, or occupy residential dwellings within the Town and also to real estate professionals involved with such transactions. Such aggrieved persons are entitled to be compensated by defendants for the injuries caused by the discriminatory conduct.
  17. The defendants' 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 discriminatory practices of the defendants as described herein violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from continuing to discriminate on account of national origin or familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;
  3. Requires such actions by the defendants as may be necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices to the position they would have occupied but for defendants' discriminatory conduct;
  4. 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);
  5. Awards each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of the defendants' 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

James P. Turner
Acting Assistant Attorney General

Paul F. Hancock
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

Isabelle M. Thabault
Cheryl L. Ziegler
David G. Lubben
Attorneys
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202) 514-8033

Fred Forman
United States Attorney

Michele M. Fox
Assistant United States Attorney
219 S. Dearborn Street
14th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 886-9085 > >

Updated August 6, 2015

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?
Yes No