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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SEEKS TO HALT DEMOLITION OF HISPANIC NEIGHBORHOODS IN ADDISON, ILLINOIS WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today accused a Chicago suburb of intentionally depriving Hispanic families of opportunities to live in the town by demolishing homes in Hispanic neighborhoods. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, alleged that the Village of Addison violated the federal Fair Housing Act by employing a scheme to reduce the number of Hispanic families through a state financing program, commonly referred to as a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) plan. Under the plan, municipalities can use eminent domain proceedings to acquire private property, such as apartment complexes, that they designate as "blighted." The municipality can then tear down the property and turn it over to private builders to redevelop to increase the tax base. While the TIF program frequently has been used to acquire and redevelop commercial property, it has rarely been used to acquire residential property. This is believed to be the first time in which such a program allegedly was used to reduce the minority population. According to the Justice Department complaint, the Hispanic population in Addison more than doubled between 1980 and 1990. The Village has 32,000 residents. Last year, the Village tore down eight apartment complexes in the targeted area, displacing 32 families. The city halted demolition after receiving a request from the Justice Department to discuss the matter. Today's suit claimed that Village officials aggressively inspected the targeted housing and repeatedly found it complied with applicable housing codes. It also alleged that officials: ​ do not have any plans to assist the displaced families; ​ ​ ​ recognize there would be insufficient affordable housing remaining in Addison; provided no assistance to the already displaced families, and; realized that many more Hispanic families will be forced to leave. Village officials offered no proof that the tax base would increase by demolishing the housing. According to the complaint, the village targeted six of the eight census blocks in Addison in which Hispanics comprise at least 50% of the population. The complaint also claimed that the census blocks in Addison with the highest number of Hispanic residents are

included in the TIF districts. "This is not urban renewal -- it is 'urban destruction' motivated by the national origin of the residents," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "We would stand behind the village if it tried to improve these neighborhoods, but we will not stand by as it destroys them." The suit seeks an order requiring the city to cease any further destruction of the homes in the two Hispanic neighborhoods and pay damages to the displaced victims, as well as punitive damages and civil penalties. "We applaud efforts to improve neighborhoods by providing residents with decent affordable housing," said James B. Burns, U.S. Attorney in Chicago. "But, effectively displacing minorities in the name of redevelopment is an affront to legitimate programs to remove blight." Hispanics United and the Leadership Council on Civil Rights filed a similar suit against Addison on October 6, 1994. The suit is currently pending before Judge Ruben Castillo. # # # 95-382