The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEONARD D. WEXLER
Pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. ("FHA"), Oxford House, Inc. ("Oxford House") and Gary and Geri Erichson ("the Erichsons"), plaintiffs in the above referenced action, seek to enjoin the Town of Babylon ("Town" or "defendant") from evicting persons with handicaps (also referred to as "plaintiffs") from their residence at 73 East Walnut Avenue, East Farmingdale, New York.
Now before the Court is plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the ground that the Town violated the Fair Housing Act because its proposed eviction of plaintiffs has a disparate impact on persons with handicaps; or, in the alternative, because the Town failed to make reasonable accommodations in its zoning ordinances as may have been necessary to afford plaintiffs an equal opportunity to enjoy housing in the Town. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment is granted.
Oxford House was founded in 1975 by a group of men who were recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction. Today there are 375 individual "Oxford Houses" which are operated on the same premise as the original. Three basic rules guide the functioning of all Oxford Houses: (1) they must be democratically self-governed; (2) they must be financially self-supporting; and (3) any person using drugs or alcohol must be immediately expelled. There are no health care professionals on the premises, and an individual can stay as long as he wishes so long as he remains drug and alcohol free and pays his share of the expenses.
Expressly based on the Oxford House concept, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. § 300x et seq., mandates that each state establish and implement a revolving fund to foster the creation of self-run, self-supported recovery houses throughout the country. In order to qualify for a loan, applicants must adhere to the three requirements set forth in the Oxford House rules as stated above.
Pursuant to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, the State of New York entered into a contract with Oxford House to provide it with a loan fund for the creation of recovery homes in New York. On or about August 30, 1991, Oxford House used $ 4,000 from this fund for the establishment of a home at 73 East Walnut Avenue. East Farmingdale, New York ("East Farmingdale Oxford House"). The house is owned by the Erichsons, and is located in a residential district in the Town, which is zoned for single family dwellings only.
Shortly after the lease was signed, neighbors complained to Town officials that recovering alcoholics were living in their community. On September 3, 1991, a Town meeting was held to discuss the new residents. This was followed by a letter from the Town Attorney to the representatives of Oxford House, alleging that the house in East Farmingdale was in violation of the Multiple Dwelling Code because the residents were not a family.
On or about September 6, 1991, Oxford House requested that the Town make a reasonable accommodation in the application of its zoning ordinance so that the residents could continue living there. The Town has never responded.
On or about September 17, 1991, the Town Board authorized the Town attorney to commence appropriate litigation, including injunctive relief and contempt proceedings, to evict the residents of the East Farmingdale Oxford House. That same day, plaintiffs filed this action to enjoin the Town from carrying out its resolution.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affiavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990). All reasonable inferences and ambiguities are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L. ...