Lawsuit filed against Peoria claiming the City's "Chronic Nuisan - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Lawsuit filed against Peoria claiming the City's "Chronic Nuisance ordinance" illegally targets African Americans

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PEORIA, Ill (HOI) -- -

A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Peoria.

That suit is claiming the city's "chronic nuisance ordinance" illegally targets African Americans.

The suit was filed on behalf of the "Hope Fair Housing Center."

The complaint says Peoria does not enforce this ordinance equally, but rather, intentionally targets mostly African American tenants. 

The complaint says following three years of research, it found African Americans, women and victims of domestic violence regularly face eviction notices more than whites. 

In the research, it shows of the 148 nuisance citations Peoria handed out (in those three years) 106 of them, or approximately 71 percent, involved properties located in neighborhoods where African Americans are the largest racial group. Yet only 27% of Peoria is African American. 

Representatives from Hope Fair Housing Center and Sargent Shriver National Center of Poverty Law, both involved in the case, say that some landlords were so concerned for their tenants that they moved them out of town. 

"people were calling the police for assistance, or were otherwise crime victims and they were still pursuing it as a nuisance enforcement and calling for the eviction of all the tenants including crime victims. That was one of the worst examples," says Kate Walz, the director of housing justice at the Sargent Shriver National Center of Poverty Law.  

She's referring to a woman who called police after claiming she was being physically assaulted and was the victim of bricks being thrown through her windshield and gunshots fired. 

Hope Fair Housing, the lawyer, says instead of providing aide to the woman, the city required her, the alleged victim to be evicted.

Another example cited in the suit describes how a grandmother who called police for help on several occasions became the subject of a nuisance notice.

It alleges even her landlord told her he didn't want to evict her, but Peoria required him to do so because of its nuisance ordinance.

Word of the federal lawsuit came Thursday afternoon through a civil rights law office and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

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