Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Godinez v. Sullivan-Lackey

August 20, 2004

[5] JULIO GODINEZ AND CARLOS GODINEZ, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
JUNE E. SULLIVAN-LACKEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND THE CITY OF CHICAGO COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Bernetta D. Bush, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Campbell

[8]  Defendants, June E. Sullivan-Lackey and the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations (the Commission), appeal from an order of the circuit court of Cook County reversing the determination of the Commission that the refusal of plaintiffs, Julio Godinez and Carlos Godinez, to rent an apartment to Sullivan-Lackey constituted discrimination in violation of the City of Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance (Chicago Municipal Code § 5-8-030 (2003)) (Fair Housing Ordinance). On appeal, defendants contend that: (1) section 8 rental assistance (42 U.S.C. 1437 (f) (1985)) (hereinafter Section 8) is a "source of income" under the Fair Housing Ordinance; (2) the Commission's determination that plaintiffs discriminated against Sullivan-Lackey based on her source of income was not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (3) the Commission properly awarded fees and costs to Sullivan-Lackey. For the following reasons, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court and reinstate the determination and order of the Commission.

[9]  BACKGROUND

[10]   The record reveals the following relevant facts. In April 1999, Sullivan-Lackey held a Section 8 rental assistance voucher, a form of monetary assistance created by Congress to aid low-income families in securing decent housing. Under the program, the United States Depart-ment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enters into an annual contributions contract with a public housing agency, which agrees to administer the program while HUD provides the necessary funds. The central requirements of the program are that: (1) the housing units meet set quality standards, as determined by the local housing authority based on an inspection of the unit prior to the lease and each year after that time; and (2) the amount of rent for unit must be reasonable in comparisons with rents charged for comparable dwelling units in the private, unassisted local market.

[11]   As part of the program, Sullivan-Lackey's residence was inspected at the end of her lease to determine whether it met the standards required for compliance. The residence failed the inspection and Sullivan-Lackey was forced to move in order to keep her vouchers. If she was unable to secure a new residence before the expiration of her vouchers, then she would lose the rental assistance.

[12]   Sullivan-Lackey learned of a vacant apartment in the apartment complex where her daughter resided. This complex is owned by plaintiff Julio Godinez and managed by his son, plaintiff Carlos Godinez. This apartment interested Sullivan-Lackey for several reasons, namely, it was on the first floor, which was important because Sullivan-Lackey suffered from numerous medical conditions that made climbing stairs difficult, and the apartment would allow her to baby-sit her grandchildren while her daughter was at work. Sullivan-Lackey, accompanied by her daughter, met with Carlos to view and apply for the apartment. Sullivan-Lackey filled out her rental application immediately after viewing the unit and made a payment of the $25 application fee, for which she received a receipt from Carlos.

[13]   Carlos reviewed her application and upon noticing that she was unemployed, asked how she intended to pay her rent. Sullivan-Lackey told him that she had a Section 8 voucher. Carlos stated that he did not accept Section 8 payments because he did not want to be audited. He told her that she could have the apartment if she paid $600 in cash each month for rent. Sullivan-Lackey did not agree to this and did not take the apartment. A couple days later, Sullivan-Lackey's daughter found a torn section of her mother's rental application on the normal route to dispose of trash.

[14]   Sullivan-Lackey was not able to find Section 8 housing before the expiration of her vouchers and she lost her benefits. Following Sullivan-Lackey's denial, two fair housing testers telephoned plaintiffs to inquire about apartments in plaintiffs' complex. Each asked about Section 8 vouchers, and was informed that they did not accept Section 8 vouchers. Plaintiffs have never leased an apartment to a tenant who paid rent with Section 8 vouchers.

[15]   In August 1999, Sullivan-Lackey filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that plaintiffs violated the Fair Housing Ordinance by discriminating against her based on her source of income. A hearing officer appointed by the Commission conducted a hearing on the complaint and issued a first recommended decision. Plaintiffs objected to the decision, and the hearing officer issued a final recommended decision. In July 2001, after reviewing the evidence presented at the hearing, the Commission issued its final ruling, concluding that the facts demonstrated that plaintiffs violated the Fair Housing Ordinance by discriminating against Sullivan-Lackey. The Commission awarded damages totaling $5,610 to Sullivan-Lackey and levied a $250 fine against the City of Chicago. In October 2001, the Commission issued an additional ruling awarding attorney fees of $16,284 to Sullivan-Lackey.

[16]   In November 2001, plaintiffs filed a writ of certiorari in the circuit court to review the administrative findings of the Commission. In June 2002, the circuit court reversed the Commission's rulings, finding as follows:

[17]   "(1) the Chicago ordinances do not provide an explicit requirement that landlords seek Section 8 certification despite the City's having the power and authority to do so;

[18]   (2) pursuant to Knapp v. Eagle, 54 F.3d 1272, this court finds that Section 8 benefits are not a 'source of income' within the meaning of the Chicago anti-discrimination ordinance."

[19]   Defendants' timely ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.