Discriminatory Actions by Governments PDF Print E-mail

Some examples of possibly discriminatory actions by a government against persons with disabilities include:

  • Imposing different terms and conditions on housing for people with disabilities or persons who are homeless, such as requiring a special use permit, or public hearing.
  • Not providing a reasonable accommodation to help someone access a government program, such as providing a sign language interpreter.
  • Refusal to issue Letter of Consistency with Consolidated Plan without valid reason.
  • Not requiring developers to make accessible units in federally funded projects.
  • Adopting policies that discourage the development of housing for protected populations.
  • Refusing to make a reasonable modification to a policy or rule that restricts access to housing.
  • Not having sufficient accessible units in public housing.
  • Zoning rules that require group homes to be a certain distance from another group home.
  • Not providing community-based housing programs.

Questions to ask if you think the a government entity or policy maker is has discriminated:

  • Is this a protected population?
  • Has it resulted in some form of damage?
  • Can it be justified as benefiting the population or is changing  an unreasonable alteration?
  • Can it be resolved through education of policy makers or community members?
  • If not, is the organization or person affected willing to take action through an administrative complaint or filing a complaint in court?
  • Do you have someone who can assist with the legal claim?

Court Cases:

In Olmstead v. L.C., the U.S. Supreme Court held that under Title II of the ADA, states are required to provide community-based treatment for persons with mental disabilities when such placement is appropriate, not opposed by the affected person and can be reasonably accommodated with the State's resources. Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999). 

                        See also:  Justice Department Settlement Agreement with Georgia in 2010.

                        Sample Olmstead Complaint from Disability Advocates, Inc. v. Paterson

Mount Laurel: Court held that refusal to rezone land to permit a federally subsidized housing project in a white neighborhood may be unconstitutional, where such action is designed to maintain the racial purity of the neighborhood. Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel, 67 N.J. 151, 336 A.2d 713 (1975)

 Doe v. Chiles:  The record revealed that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of eligible developmentally disabled persons in Florida were not being provided ICF/DD services with anything resembling reasonable promptness. The Court found that plaintiffs had a federal right to reasonably prompt provision of assistance under the Medicaid Act.

The Court ordered the State to establish a reasonable waiting list time period, not to exceed ninety days, for individuals who are eligible for placement in ICF/DD. Doe v. Chiles, 136 F.3d 709, C.A.11 (Fla.),1998

The action was brought under rights afforded by the Civil Rights Act. Section 1983 imposes liability on anyone who, acting under color of state law, deprives a person of "any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws." 42 U.S.C.A. • 1983 (West Supp.1997)


Burstyn (Pre FHA Protections): A case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida challenged a City of Miami Beach ordinance which included restrictions on Assisted Living Facilities ("ALF")(a type of group home). The court held that height restrictions and prohibition of ALFs on certain streets was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Burstyn v. City of Miami Beach, 663 F. Supp. 528 (S.D. Fla. 1987).


Case law changes frequently. Consult an attorney for the latest in case law and for legal advice. This information provided by teh National Supportive Housing Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.