National News

Feds file suit against town of Garner

Posted May 19, 2009 3:02 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2009 7:01 p.m. EDT

— The U.S. Justice Department filed a discrimination suit against the town of Garner and the board of adjustment there Tuesday, alleging the town unfairly limited the number of residents in a group home for those recovering from addiction.

Oxford House Inc. filed the complaint under the terms of the Fair Housing Act after the town refused to consider a request to expand a residential treatment program from six to eight participants. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigated the claim and referred the case to the Justice Department, which filed suit in U.S. District Court in Raleigh.

Oxford House is, according to an official Web site, "a clean and sober housing option for individuals in recovery."  There are 129 Oxford houses in 28 cities statewide.

"Enforcement of Fair Housing laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities is a priority of the U.S. Attorney in Eastern North Carolina," U.S. Attorney George Holding said.

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. The suit alleges that Garner failed to allow a reasonable accommodation to the residents, whose addiction qualifies as a disability.

If the Justice Department proves the case in federal court, the town could be forced to grant the expansion request and to pay damages to victims of discrimination, according to a news release about the suit.