SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)–Following a two-day trial, a federal jury awarded $293,000 to the residents of a group home, their guardians, and the Individual Advocacy Group.
The Justice Department found that in 2016 Springfield attempted to close a group home.
Officials stated that in 2014, three people with intellectual and physical disabilities moved into a single-family home on Noble Avenue in Springfield. There they got community residential services from a state-licensed provider: IAG. Even though this home was following state requirements, the City attempted to shut it down.
Officials said the City relied on a local ordinance that said group homes had to be further than 600 feet apart.
In 2017, the United States filed a lawsuit against Springfield. They stated the City violated the Fair Housing Act by enforcing the 600-foot ordinance.
Arrangements like the one in Springfield are known as “Community Integrated Living Arrangements.” These allow those with disabilities to live in an integrated community instead of an institution.
“The Fair Housing Act prevents cities from maintaining discriminatory zoning laws and
enforcing them against their citizens,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the
Civil Rights Division. “This verdict recognizes the significant pain and real harm that results
when officials undertake discriminatory action to block group homes. We will continue to
vigorously enforce the FHA to ensure that people with disabilities can live in the communities
and housing of their choice, free from discrimination.”
“Persons with disabilities should have the same housing choices as all members of our
community,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua I. Grant for the Central District of Illinois.
“The jury’s verdict shows how persons with disabilities can often face barriers that make their
lives more difficult and erode their dignity. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work
with the Department of Justice to ensure equal access to housing and justice for the citizens of
the Central District of Illinois.”
The United States has a pending civil penalty suit against the City of Springfield. It is pending with the court.