Friday, December 23, 2016

NO ROOM AT THE INN -- United States of America v. City of Jacksonville challenges violations of civil rights -- denial of homeless housing approval

Thanks for the Justice Department suing the City of Jacksonville, Florida to remedy its unconstitutionally refusing zoning approval to convert an old apartment building into housing for homeless veterans.
DOJ alleges that the City of Jacksonville retaliated against a non-profit group for suing the City.
Ridiculous rebarbative retromingent reprehensible Duval County Republicans use veterans as props and the flag as an idol, but when it comes to helping homeless veterans, they're AWOL.
What do you expect from a pig but a grunt?

Feds sue Jacksonville over city refusal of homeless housing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Federal civil rights attorneys have sued the city of Jacksonville for refusing to allow a nonprofit organization to convert an old apartment building into housing for the homeless.

The Florida Times-Union reports ( ) that lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division on Tuesday asked a federal judge for an injunction blocking the city's move on the grounds that it discriminates against disabled people.

Ability Housing of Northeast Florida has been trying to convert a 1920s-era apartment building into homeless housing.

But city officials used a zoning law to block the plan after neighbors and some city officials demonstrated against the project.

Ability has also sued, and that lawsuit is still in progress.

City spokeswoman Marsha Oliver told the newspaper that she would not comment on active litigation.


Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union,

Posted December 20, 2016 09:09 pm - Updated December 21, 2016 10:04 am
By Steve Patterson
Feds sue Jacksonville over Springfield homeless apartment fight

The federal government sued Jacksonville on Tuesday for refusing to let a nonprofit group convert a Springfield apartment building into homes for the homeless, saying that choice violated federal housing laws.

“City officials acquiesced to community opposition” when they weren’t entitled to and violated rights of people who would have lived in the project planned by Ability Housing of Northeast Florida, the suit argued.

The suit said the city “intentionally, willfully and with disregard for the rights of others” violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by not permitting the project at 139 Cottage Ave. near Main Street.

Attorneys from the Justice Department’s civil rights division asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan for an injunction blocking the city from enforcing a part of the city zoning code they said discriminates against people with disabilities.

That’s an apparent reference to a zoning overlay for Springfield that critics have said blocks mentally ill people from living in the neighborhood by barring group homes and similar facilities.

Ability wanted to house homeless people, many expected to be veterans with mental illnesses or drug histories, in a 12-unit building that had been constructed as apartments in the 1920s.

Neighborhood activists rallied opponents, organizing one protest attended by members of the School Board and City Council and encouraging opponents to speak up at public meetings about the project.

Ability argued in 2014 that it would simply rent existing apartments, and that it wasn’t creating anything new.

But the city’s planning director at the time said the project was “akin to” creating a new group home and wouldn’t be permitted, and city boards later backed up that decision.

Ability sued the city last year, and that fact became part of the federal lawsuit, too.

Federal attorneys noted that after Ability sued, Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff, Kerri Stewart, told another nonprofit that hands out city funding for community projects not to give Ability a $78,000 payment that had been approved before the suit was filed.

Ability’s lawsuit is still in federal court, and attorneys had seemed interested in avoiding a trial. About two weeks ago, Corrigan scrapped a set of deadlines for court filings in that case so the two sides could focus on trying to finalize a settlement.

“It is regrettable the matter had to reach this point; however, we remain hopeful for a successful resolution,” Ability’s executive director, Shannon Nazworth, said by email Tuesday night

City spokeswoman Marsha Oliver said simply that “it is our practice that we do not provide any comment on active litigation.”

Besides the injunction, the federal suit asks for an order restoring “victims of the defendant’s unlawful practices” — apparently Ability and its clients — whatever losses could be restored, as well as an unspecified penalty to “vindicate the public justice.”

That last request could become expensive, depending on how the case evolves.

In 2012, when the federal government sued the city of New Orleans over a similar situation, that city ended up settling by agreeing to pay for another 350 homes for homeless people.

Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263


Stephen Dare
To be accurate. When someone is living in an apartment, they are not homeless.

Mike Mike
Oh they'll support our troops as long as they don't want to live in their neighborhood when they come home damaged.
ReplyShare2 replies+3

sharon roy
Well Mike let them live in your neighborhood. Springfield is not the drop off point for every homeless person regardless of their veteran's status.

Marilyn Evans
Sharon, give this lesson from God some consideration - There but for the grace of God go I. Count your own blessings and help someone else out.

Springfield has long been a dumping ground for mentally ill group homes. It wasn't until revitalization efforts of Springfield took place that this became an issue. The city has spent a lot of money and effort to market this area to citizens who were willing to pay for the rehab of these 100 year homes and move in. The various NIMBY groups don't want mentally ill wandering their neighborhoods during the day. For those that do not know, these mentally ill group homes provide food and overnight accommodations for the mentally ill. after feeding them breakfast they encourage them to leave the house and spend the day walking around so that they can do their various administrative duties. they want the mentally ill to return home in the evening to house them but they encourage them to be gone during the day which puts them walking around in the neighborhood. homeowners are concerned that their children are going to interact with these mentally ill people. A common ground must be met to protect homeowners and their children but at the same time respect the rights of mentally ill people.

Here's the real rub, the current mental state of our local government: "Kerri Stewart, told another nonprofit that hands out city funding for community projects not to give Ability a $78,000 payment that had been approved before the suit was filed." Challenge our decisions, we'll show you. The key word is "before". Pathetic. That alone is tangible proof for initiating a lawsuit.

Ryan Allison
#Jacksonville, grow up --it's 2017.

Pamela Gardener
I chose to live in Springfield for 10 years because I liked having diverse cultures, lifestyles and age groups around me. I met a lot of opposition and animosity from people who wanted to gentrify the hood. Lets save the building and put it to good use giving homeless people a place to live.

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