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Association of Relatives and Friends of AIDS Patients (AFAPS) v. Regulations and Permits Administration (ARPE)

    Brief Fact Summary. A town refused to allow an organization to build an AIDS hospice.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Fair Housing Act will be violated when a community refuses to allow construction of a group home for persons with disabilities, when the refusal is grounded in the fear of the community of those intending to reside in the home.

    Facts. AFAPS (Plaintiffs) attempted to establish an AIDS hospice at a site. This was met with opposition by the town’s residents. The town was worried that mosquitoes might transmit AIDS, they did not want former drug users and homosexuals living in their town, and they worried about decreasing property values, among other things. Plaintiffs were not given a special permit for the operation of the hospice by ARPE (Defendants), a governmental agency. Plaintiffs allege a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of handicap. Defendants justify the refusal to grant the special permit because the area was limited to agricultural use.

    Issue. Will the Fair Housing Act be violated when a permit is rejected because community residents are afraid of people with AIDS?

    Held. Yes.
    A decision maker has a duty not to allow illegal prejudices of the majority to influence the decision making process. If an official act is performed in order to appease the discriminatory views of private parties, that act itself becomes tainted with discriminatory intent even if the decision maker personally has no strong views on the matter.
    Defendants acted in furtherance of the misguided and discriminatory notions held by the town residents concerning AIDS patients, or at least bowed to political pressure exerted by these residents.
    There is no evidence that the zoning classification was a factor in the decision making process. Defendants had the authority to grant the special use permit if they wish to, in the best interest of the community.
    In conclusion, Defendants intended to prevent AIDS patients from residing in the town in order to ward off public opposition from the area residents.

    Discussion. Using zoning regulations as a pretext for excluding persons with AIDS from a town will be a violation of the Fair Housing Act because it will be discriminatory treatment with a disparate effect on a group with a handicap.


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