Us dop florida settlement press release


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Landmark ruling made by the U.S. Justice Department against Municipal Governments in Discrimination of Disabilities.

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Us dop florida settlement press release

  1. 1. -----U.S. DEPARTMENT of JUSTICESTART----------------PRESS RELEASE---------------------------U.S. Department of JusticeOffice of Public AffairsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMonday, October 25, 2010~Polk County, Florida, Agrees to Pay $400,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit~WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that Polk County, Fla., has agreed to pay$400,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to settle a lawsuit alleging that it violated the FairHousing Act when it denied New Life Outreach Ministries the right to operate a faith-based transitionalresidency program in Lakeland, Fla., for homeless men with disabilities, including those in recoveryfrom drug and alcohol abuse. This lawsuit is part of the Justice Department’s continuing effort toenforce civil rights laws that require states and municipalities to end discrimination against, andunnecessary segregation of, persons with disabilities.Under the consent decree, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the MiddleDistrict of Florida, the county agreed to pay $280,000 to New Life, up to $80,000 to individuals whowere forced to relocate from New Life’s property on Pipkin Road as a result of the county’s conductand $40,000 to the government. The consent decree also prohibits the county from furtherdiscrimination and requires county employees who have responsibilities related to zoning and land-useto receive fair-housing training."Equal access to housing is a basic necessity and a civil right, and the Fair Housing Act guarantees thatall individuals can access that right free from discrimination," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant AttorneyGeneral for the Civil Rights Division. "This settlement will ensure that the equal housing opportunitiesrequired by law are available to all citizens of Polk County and send a message to other states andmunicipalities that we have no tolerance for discrimination against persons with any type of disability."The complaint in this case, which was filed by the Justice Department on Sept. 30, 2010, alleges thatthe county twice approved, in writing, New Life’s proposed use and affirmed that the use was legalunder the county’s land development code. The complaint also alleges that New Life purchased theproperty on Pipkin Road in reliance on this written approval and that the county reversed itself onlyafter community opposition arose because of the disabilities of New Life’s residents.The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin,sex, familial status (having children under 18 years old) and disability.More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces can be found,, .Individuals who believe thatthey may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line:1-800-896-7743 E-mail the Justice Department Department of Housing &Urban Development 1-800-669-9777. Civil Rights DivisionEND--------------------------------------------------PRESS RELEASE END------------------10/25/2010