WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit today against the village of Tinley Park, Illinois, alleging that the suburb of Chicago violated the Fair Housing Act when it refused to approve a low-income housing development in response to race-based community opposition.
The suit alleges that in 2015, the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation sought to build a 47-unit apartment complex for low-income individuals just outside of Tinley Park’s downtown. The project would be financed through Low Income Housing Tax Credits administered by the Illinois Housing and Development Authority. The suit alleges that Tinley Park discriminated against prospective tenants of the proposed development when it refused to approve the project despite the Tinley Park Planning Department’s finding that the project was in “precise conformance” with the applicable building requirements. Under Tinley Park’s zoning ordinances, Tinley Park’s Plan Commission should have approved the project and allowed construction to begin. Instead, the lawsuit alleges that in response to vocal and, at times, race-based community opposition, Tinley Park trustees requested the Plan Commission table consideration of the project. The Plan Commission did so, stalling the project indefinitely.
“The Fair Housing Act requires that cities make housing-related zoning and land use decisions based on the merits – not on race,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “When discrimination interferes with the housing and zoning approval process, entire communities suffer.”
“Our office is committed to fighting unlawful discrimination wherever it occurs, including in fair housing,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois. “Where appropriate, we will pursue local governments that try to reduce affordable housing opportunities for discriminatory purposes.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The suit seeks a court order requiring Tinley Park to approve the development and to take other action to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act. It also seeks monetary damages for persons harmed by Tinley Park’s actions as well as a civil penalty. A separate suit brought by Buckeye against Tinley Park is also pending in the Northern District of Illinois.
The lawsuit is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, email the Justice Department at fairhousing (at) usdoj (dot) gov
or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.