LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Southern California city of San Jacinto on Tuesday agreed to pay $746,600 plus a fine of $10,000 to settle a federal complaint of disability discrimination in housing.
San Jacinto, pop. 45,400, is in the mountain of eastern Riverside County, in the mountain range from which it takes its name.
The Department of Justice sued the city in November 2012, charging it with violating the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act through an ordinance that was "intended to exclude unlicensed and some licensed homes for persons with disabilities from the city, and by targeting homes for persons with disabilities for enforcement of the ordinance and other local laws," the Justice Department said in a statement announcing the settlement.
"Municipalities and other governmental entities cannot violate federal civil rights statutes by hiding behind intentionally discriminatory laws designed to appear neutral on their face," Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels said in the statement.
The city, assisted by county sheriff's officers, conducted an early morning warrantless sweep of group homes in November 2008 and interrogated residents about whether they were alcoholics or drug addicts, whether they had a mental illness, and if so, what type, what medications they were taking, and other questions.
Two housing providers complained to HUD, and the lawsuit followed.