Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Alleging Disability Discrimination in Housing by the City of Petal, Mississippi

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 30, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the city of Petal, Mississippi, to resolve allegations of discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities who sought to live in supported housing in one of the city’s residential neighborhoods.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, alleges that the city violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act when it took actions to prevent three men with disabilities from residing together in a rented home on the same terms as non-disabled persons; under the city’s zoning code, up to four unrelated persons may reside together in a home in a residential neighborhood. The home at issue is run by Brandi’s Hope Community Services, LLC, a Magee, Mississippi-based company that provides around-the-clock support for residents.

Under the terms of the agreement, approved by the court on July 29, 2015, the city will pay $25,000 to Brandi’s Hope in monetary damages and $25,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. The city will take other remedial measures, including implementing the comprehensive reasonable accommodation policy and zoning code amendments it enacted as part of the settlement. The settlement also resolves a separate lawsuit against the city brought by Brandi’s Hope.

“Persons with disabilities have the right to live in and enjoy their communities, just as all families do throughout our nation,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to eliminate discriminatory barriers that impede these individuals from doing so. We commend the city of Petal for working cooperatively with the department to reach this resolution.”

“This office is pleased that the city of Petal will now implement comprehensive reasonable accommodation policies and zoning code amendments that will allow persons with disabilities to enjoy the same right to live in the community as others,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis of the Southern District of Mississippi. “These changes will positively impact the lives of many others with disabilities in the future.”

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Persons who believe that they have experienced unlawful housing discrimination may contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, or by e-mail at fairhousing (at) usdoj (dot) govEmail links icon, or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.

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