Excluding Minors from SROs Promotes Legitimate Interest
Facts: A New York City resident who occupied two single room occupancy (SRO) units with her minor children challenged a local ordinance prohibiting children under 16 from occupying SROs, arguing that the restriction violates the Fair Housing Act. She sued the City of New York on the ground that the restriction constitutes discrimination on the basis of familial status.
Decision: The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled for the City of New York.
Reasoning: Limitations on facilities in SROs, such as the fact that the bathroom is not within a household's living space and is shared with nonfamily members, pose a risk for “children's health and safety and… heir privacy and development,” the court said. In addition, there was no evidence for the resident's claim that prohibiting families from living in SROs “puts them out on the street,” the court said, because other living arrangements are within the resident's means. Consequently, the court ruled that the ordinance excluding minor children from SROs was based on legitimate concerns about their health, safety, and welfare, which cannot be achieved through other means and, therefore, does not violate the Fair Housing Act.
- Sierra v. City of New York, October 2008