Residents of a housing community for people with mental illness and substance abuse problems are suing Sarasota County… for alleged housing discrimination. A Washington-based attorney filed a federal lawsuit Monday—on behalf of residents at the Renaissance House. It claims the county has violated both the Fair Housing and Americans With Disabilities acts. The suit claims the county is using zoning codes to shut down the facility…which has operated at its current location since 1997. When Renaissance House recently applied for permits to add 2 more houses – the county first approved, then reversed its decision… saying, instead, the facility would have to shut down all but one of its 6 houses. The suit alleges the reversal was due to pressure from neighbors. Lead attorney in the suit – Steven Polin says while the action seeks to keep the facility open…it also seeks to educate the community.
“One of the ultimate goals that we’d like to accomplish in this lawsuit besides insuring that Tammi House and its residents can continue to live where they are and continue to do what they’re doing in terms of providing a safe place to live for people who have substance abuse and mental health history is educate the community.”
Under both the ADA & Fair Housing acts it is unlawful to deny housing because of a handicap.
The lawsuit also names a couple that lives adjacent to the facility for allegedly harassing residents. The county – which could not be immediately reached - has 20 days to file an answer.
Wednesday, 18 May 2005 01:00