WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced a lawsuit Nov. 28 against the city of Springfield, Illinois, alleging violating the Fair Housing Act through discrimination against persons with disabilities.

According to the Justice Department, the city’s zoning codes treat small group homes for persons with disabilities worse than other housing situations.

“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.”

The department alleges Springfield attempted to shut down a home in which three residents with intellectual and physical disabilities lived. The city did so because it said the home was operating in violation of a 600-foot spacing requirement that applies to community residences persons with disabilities. The Justice Department said, however, that the 600-foot spacing requirement only exists for homes with five or more unrelated persons with disabilities.

The lawsuit brought forth by the Justice Department seeks compensatory damages for victims as well as a civil penalty.

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