Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Fair Housing Clarifications Helpful to Local Officials

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Fair Housing Clarifications Helpful to Local Officials

Article excerpt

Local officials' efforts to comply with the Fair Housing Act will be aided by a recent clarification issued by the Clinton Administration.

A Joint Statement concerning Group Homes, Local Land Use, and the Fair Housing Act was issued to the National League of Cities in August by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Justice (DOJ). In letters of thanks to HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Janet Reno, NLC Executive Director Don Borut lauded both agencies for finalizing this fair housing guidance sought by city officials. It is posted on Access Local Government (ALG).

"This document.... will go a long way in helping municipalities understand the relationship of zoning and land use to the Fair Housing Act and the Fair Housing Act Amendments, and particularly the protections afforded disabled persons seeking to live in group homes in residential neighborhoods," Mr. Borut said.

In outlining the problems faced by cities, Don Borut said, "Cities have sought guidance since 1993 from Justice and HUD on the siting of group homes. Due to ambiguities in fair housing law and inconsistent fair housing decisions in the federal circuit courts, cities have experienced confusion at a minimum, and have gone to court far too olden to resolve issues related to the siting of group homes. The guidance document recently completed by Justice and HUD is expected to help reduce confusion at the municipal level related to the siting of group homes for the disabled."

Borut's letter indicated that there is still work to be done and suggested that further Cooperation with HUD and Justice be pursued to address some of the remaining problems related to group homes, particularly issues related to "direct threats" to safety. …

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