Homeless vets not welcome in Newark’s Ironbound? Nonprofit sues
NEWARK — A nonprofit organization says city officials discriminated against military veterans by denying an application to build housing for homeless heroes.
The nonprofit — Independence: A Family of Services— wanted to convert a three-story building it owns on Van Buren Street into a homeless shelter that could house as many as 40 veterans.
“The planning board denied our application even though it is a permitted use in that neighborhood," Margaret Woods, IFS president and CEO told New Jersey 101.5.
When the plan was first rejected in March, NJ.com reported that local residents were against the plan, believing the proposed location was not appropriate for the “scope of mental and behavioral health services the agency wants to provide,” and so the board sided with the public.
But in the lawsuit filed last month in federal district court, IFS claims the unanimous decision was rooted in discrimination against the disabled.
The lawsuit claims the rejection will “make unavailable and deny a dwelling to persons because they suffer from some form of PTSD, a mental condition recognized as a protected disability.”
The lawsuit says that East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, a member of the Central Planning Committee, actively campaigned against the proposal, promising voters that he would vote against it even though he should have remained neutral.
The lawsuit says the city violated the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the state Municipal Land Use Law.