Allentown church sues after application for recovery home denied by zoning board

Written by on July 20, 2021

 Allentown church sues after application for recovery home denied by zoning board

By Ben Stemrich

July 20, 2021

Allentown Victory Church’s Recover Victory Home in Allentown, Pennsylvania. | Google Maps

A local church has filed a lawsuit against the city of Allentown after being denied permission to operate what they are calling a group home, but the city does not see it that way.

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The Allentown Victory Church asked the city zoning board for a reasonable exception to allow what they are calling a sober living group home for recovering drug and alcohol abusers. The church’s attorney, Steven Polin, says the city is calling it something else. 

“Because you’re taking in people who are on probation or parole and you’re offering substance abuse services and therefore you’re a halfway house,” Polin said.

A group home would not be permitted on the 1400 block of Hamilton Street, where it’s been in existence since 2019, because it’s a high-density area. But if the residents are disabled, exceptions can be made. The lawsuit alleges the board did not consider that. 

Allentown officials say they have yet to be served with the lawsuit, and therefore have no comment.

When it comes to who The Fair Housing Act covers, it says this: “The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the law exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.”

For more information on the American Disabilities Act and the classification of drug addiction as an impairment can be found here.

Allentown’s zoning ordinances can be found here.

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