Published January, 1992

Support Ministries for Persons with AIDS, Inc. v. Vill. of Waterford, 808 F. Supp. 120 (N.D.N.Y. 1992)

When plaintiff attempted to establish a residence for HIV-positive homeless people, community opposition persuaded the zoning board to amend its laws to exclude uses such as the proposed residence from residential areas. The defendant then rejected the plaintiff’s application for a special use permit or a waiver. Finding that people with HIV/AIDS were handicapped under the FHA, the court held that, even when asymptomatic, HIV and AIDS can constitute a handicap due to the stigmatization and prejudice that follow them. The court found that the change to the zoning laws was primarily meant to exclude the plaintiff’s residence and that this was due to the future residents’ HIV status. In addition, the court found that the zoning amendment had a disparate impact on the handicapped, as it essentially excluded the handicapped from boarding and rooming houses within the town. Rejecting the town’s direct threat defense, the court permanently enjoined the defendants from interfering with the residence, and ordered them to approve the plaintiff’s permit applications.

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