City calls lawsuit 'baseless,' claims it's a legal money-grab - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

City calls lawsuit 'baseless,' claims it's a legal money-grab

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PEORIA, Ill (HOI) -- -

The River City is reacting to a lawsuit filed Thursday which claims that code enforcement is being used to illegally discriminate against and evict minority families from their homes.

Peoria city officials are calling the lawsuit baseless, and without merit - even going so far as to say its just an attempt at a money-grab.

In the lawsuit, Hope Fair Housing Center claims they are seeking both legal compensation and to remove marks of eviction from their client's records, which would otherwise make it more difficult to get future housing.

The City of Peoria, however, says that it's been told if it offers a settlement of $500,000, the lawsuit will be dropped. That's why the city attorney believes the lawsuit is just an effort to get money.

"Pursuant to the statues that they are seeking to enforce, they're seeking to obtain attorney's fees," explains Don Liest, City Corporate Council. "And that is what this case is about, in my view."

"I would disagree with that entirely," rebutted Executive Director of Hope Fair Housing Ann Houghtaling. "We filed it in federal district court, and we can let the courts determine if there is basis in our evidence or not."

The city has not commented if it is considering the settlement or not. We reached out to many members of the city council, including the manager and mayor, who did not respond.

This is also not the first time the River City has faced allegations of racism - you'll recall the 24-7 Wall Street poll that rated Peoria as the worst city in America for African Americans. City officials say they have been working to improve that image, but also say that report was slanted.

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