Lawsuit claims Springfield discriminated with zoning laws

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – A federal lawsuit claims Springfield discriminated against people with disabilities through its housing laws.

The U.S. Justice Department filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, saying the discrimination happened when the city tried to close a home occupied by people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Federal leaders say the city was trying to enforce a 600-foot spacing requirement that applies to homes involving people with disabilities and not to homes involving people without any disabilities. Three people live in that home.

Federal leaders say Springfield leaders should have given that particular home an exception.

The Justice Department claims Springfield’s zoning rules go against the national Fair Housing Act, which is meant to protect people who are renting, buying or trying to put together financial for real estate from discrimination.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits cities from applying their zoning laws in a manner that discriminates against persons with disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division.  “We will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition on such discrimination.”

In the lawsuit, the Department of Justice wants the creation of a court order to stop Springfield from enforcing its spacing rules against people with disabilities. It wants money to go toward the three residents of the house for damages and demands a civil penalty payment from the city.

A service provider involved with the same three-person home and one of its residents are fighting Springfield’s zoning laws in a different case, which is now on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

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