FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, DECEMBER 12, 2005                

CONTACT:  James Perry,  205-276-2428 or jperry@gnofairhousing.org

FAIR HOUSING CENTER FILES FEDERAL DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY OF DENHAM SPRINGS 

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Options Foundation, Inc. (Options), against the City of Denham Springs in Federal Court.   The suit alleges that the City’s refusal to allow use of a property as a residence for individuals with mental illness violates the requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.  The suit requests a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction and permanent injunction to prevent the City from preventing the continued use of a Denham Springs property as a group home and from evicting its residents.  The suit further requests permanent enjoinment of discrimination by the City, against Options.

Options opened the group home after Hurricane Katrina in an attempt to assist a group of Hurricane evacuees who have mental illnesses and who were forced to evacuate their New Orleans group home.  Options chose the property in question because it had previously been used as a half-way house until May of 2005 and would likely meet their need to provide housing to individuals with disabilities in a community setting.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “Under the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities have a right to live in an integrated community.  Municipalities must honor and respect that right.  To the extent that Denham Springs is unwilling to do so, the Fair Housing Action Center, on behalf of Options Foundation, Inc., is prepared to push as hard as necessary to protect those rights.”

What is the Fair Housing Action Center, Inc.?

The Fair Housing Action Center, Inc., or FHAC, was established in August 1995 with help from the National Fair Housing Alliance and a grant from U.S. HUD. FHAC is a private, non-profit organization that will work to further the goal of fair housing and open neighborhoods in the greater New Orleans area.