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On October 13th, 2023, Kennedy Hunt P.C. filed a complaint against the City of Rockford, Illinois over allegations the defendant discriminated against residents at Oxford Houses – homes that support individuals with disabilities who are recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction and who no longer use alcohol or drugs – in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff Oxford House opened its first home in 1975 to assist individuals recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. The first Oxford House in Rockford, Illinois opened in 2021. The lawsuit alleges the City repeatedly discriminated against our client’s residents and unlawfully refused  to provide our client with reasonable accommodations in keeping with Federal anti-discrimination laws. 

For example, per the lawsuit: 

On October 26, 2021, the City’s police came to Oxford House Waylon and ordered the seven residents living at the home to vacate the property by 5:00 p.m. that day or be arrested. All the residents left their home that day by 5:00 p.m. for fear of arrest and did not return that night. On October 26, 2021, the City also condemned Oxford House Waylon as “DANGEROUS and UNSAFE TO OCCUPY” and denied the residents entry to the property.

The lawsuit also alleges the City repeatedly unlawfully denied Oxford Houses permits or other permissions, and retailed against Plaintiffs based on their protected class and protected activities.  

For example:

On October 2, 2023, the City denied all of OHI’s requests for reasonable accommodations to be treated as a family, waived the Community-Based Housing limit of six residents, and waived the 500-foot separation requirement as to Oxford House Waylon and Oxford House Earnest. The City has never issued any Community-Based Housing permits for any of the Oxford Houses, even for six residents. 

The lawsuit continues:

The City’s conduct has harmed the Oxford House residents by unlawfully evicting them under police force from their homes with nowhere to go, instilled fear of future illegal eviction and intimidation under color of law, instilled fear of losing their homes, and caused anxiety, emotional distress, setbacks in their recovery, and other irreparable harm. 

The lawsuit seeks damages and injunctive relief to halt Defendant’s discrimination based on handicap or disability in violation of the FHA and ADA. This case is ongoing. For more information, contact attorneys Michelle Faron, Nicole Matlock and Sarah Jane Hunt at info@kennedyhuntlaw.com. If you or someone you know has had their housing or disability rights violated, our skilled attorneys at Kennedy Hunt, P.C. may be able to help you. Fill out a questionnaire so we can understand your claim.