On August 10, 2017, Relman Colfax filed a federal housing discrimination lawsuit against the City of Peoria, Illinois, alleging that the City's enforcement of its "chronic nuisance ordinance" violates the Fair Housing Act, on the basis of race and sex. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois on behalf of HOPE Fair Housing Center, alleges that Peoria intentionally targets enforcement in predominantly African-American neighborhoods and against buildings with predominantly African-American tenants. As a result, African-American residents regularly face eviction for conduct that does not result in eviction for white residents.
Under the chronic nuisance ordinance, Peoria requires landlords to evict tenants at certain homes that the City deems to be "chronic nuisances," simply because the properties have been the subject of multiple police contacts. After an extensive investigation, HOPE found that Peoria does not enforce the ordinance equally at all homes that could be eligible for enforcement under the ordinance's broad terms. Rather, HOPE found, Peoria selectively enforces its ordinance against buildings that are located in predominantly African-American communities or have primarily African-American tenants. HOPE's investigation also found that crime victims—including survivors of domestic violence, most of whom are women—were regularly targeted for eviction under the ordinance, effectively punishing them for seeking help from the police.
On May 14, 2018, U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow denied the City's motion to dismiss. The case is currently in litigation.
The Relman Colfax litigation team is assisted by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law as co-counsel.
HOPE Fair Housing Center v. City of Peoria, No. 1:17-cv-1360 (C.D. Ill.)
In the Media
- Peoria Public Radio, 08.11.2017
- Peoria Journal Star, 08.10.2017