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CR (202) 616-2777 TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND ILLINOIS TOWN REACH FAIR HOUSING AGREEMENT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A restrictive housing ordinance that was allegedly enacted to reduce the number of Hispanic families moving into Cicero, Illinois, will no longer be enforced under an agreement reached with the Justice Department. The agreement, entered today in U.S. District Court in Chicago, resolves a March, 1993 suit alleging the town violated the federal Fair Housing Act. According to the suit, the town enacted and selectively enforced a restrictive occupancy ordinance with the intent of slowing the influx of Hispanic families into Cicero. "Ordinances which place restrictions on housing opportunities based on someone's national origin violate the law," said Isabelle Katz Pinzler, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Today's agreement underscores our efforts to prevent housing discrimination in all forms." Under the agreement, the town will: no longer enforce the ordinance; provide $60,000 to compensate persons who were harmed by Cicero's enforcement of the occupancy ordinance, with any unused portion being used to further fair housing goals in the town; and, agree that any new occupancy ordinance that is enacted will be no more restrictive than nationally recognized building codes. The Department's lawsuit had alleged that the town did not enforce the occupancy ordinance against current residents, the majority of whom are white, but rather only against new purchasers of property, the great majority of whom are Hispanic. The occupancy ordinance restricted occupancy of some threebedroom dwellings in Cicero to as few as two persons. It was also more restrictive than occupancy restrictions set forth in nationally recognized building codes, such as the Building Officials & Code
Administrators International, Inc. ("BOCA"). "Because of the cooperation of the town's officials in reaching today's settlement, families will now be able to live in homes that would have been off bounds under the old ordinance," said Scott R. Lassar, U.S. Attorney in Chicago. "A person's national origin or family size should not prevent him or her from obtaining a decent affordable place to live." The Justice Department also filed suits in Waukegan and Addison alleging discrimination against Hispanics. The government alleged that Waukegan had targeted Hispanics for enforcement of an ordinance that limited the number of family members who could live together. The Department's suit against Addison alleged that the Village had demolished housing in Hispanic neighborhoods under an urban renewal program in an effort to limit housing opportunities for Hispanics in Addison. The government has reached settlements in both cases. The Addison settlement is still awaiting court approval. The agreement with Cicero comes the same week that Civil Rights Division celebrated its 40th Anniversary. Individuals who believe that they have been harmed by Cicero's enforcement of its occupancy ordinance should call the Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743. ### 97-522