Greensboro Homeless Shelter, Residents Sue State for Disability Discrimination

Mary’s House, the owner and operator of a shelter and transitional living facility in Greensboro, North Carolina, filed a lawsuit in federal court on February 17, 2012, alleging that the State’s decision to stop funding its programs was based on disability-based discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws. Joining Mary’s House in the lawsuit were eight of its current or former residents.

The lawsuit alleges states that between 2005 and 2010, Mary’s House applied for and received federal Emergency Shelter Grants Program funds from the State of North Carolina. However, in 2010 and 2011, the State denied Mary’s House’s application for Emergency Shelter Grants funds.

According to the press release issued by Mary’s House:

The lawsuit asserts the State’s decision to stop funding Mary’s House is discriminatory and illegal under federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fair Housing Act, all of which prohibit the State from denying federal funds, housing, or services on the basis of disability. It alleges the State has targeted one disability – recovery from substance abuse – and has decided that shelters that serve homeless persons who have that particular disability are ineligible to apply for federal funds. The lawsuit also alleges that the State’s decision violates the Constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Mary’s House and its residents are asking the Federal District Court to award them damages and to prohibit the State from continuing to deny funding to Mary’s House because of the disability of the Mary’s House residents.

 Mary’s House is represented in the lawsuit by Nicole Crawford, Kyle Woosley, and Alex Elkan of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP in Greensboro. The former and current residents of the Mary’s House shelter are represented by Ed Sharp, Janet McAuley-Blue, and Miriam Heard of the Greensboro office of Legal Aid of North Carolina.

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