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Abstract

This Article examines the impact of the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) on prohibiting housing discrimination against persons on the basis of their disabilities, and analyzes the court decisions interpreting the FHAA on questions of land use to determine whether they are consistent with the stated intentions of the drafters of the Amendments. Part I traces the legislative intent behind the FHAA and, specifically, the sections of the Amendments enjoining housing discrimination against persons with handicaps. Part I also analyzes the court decisions interpreting the Amendments’ requirements as to what facts must be demonstrated to prove discrimination. This Part of the Article considers judicial treatment of the question of whether certain handicapped persons meet the statute's definition of “handicap” and whether certain residences qualify for coverage under the Amendments. Thereafter, this Article examines the land use issues that recur frequently in handicap housing discrimination cases. Part II discusses decisions in which courts have found that actions of municipalities constituted intentional discrimination against persons with handicaps. Part III analyzes court interpretations of both “facially neutral” laws and ordinances, and laws and ordinances that provide for special treatment of persons with handicaps, to determine if those interpretations comport with the intentions of the drafters of the Amendments. Part IV considers the impact of the reasonable accommodation portion of the Amendments on handicap housing discrimination and the section of the Amendments exempting certain “reasonable” local laws and ordinances from coverage. Part V discusses the doctrine of federal abstention and the Anti-Injunction Act and their application to the goals of the Fair Housing Act Amendments. Finally, Part VI recommends an approach to cases under the FHAA that would be consistent with the intentions of its drafters.

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