ACLU Sues Ypsilanti Housing Commission for Evicting Victim of Domestic Violence

February 06, 2002

DETROIT — Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sued the Ypsilanti Housing Commission (Commission) for evicting Aronica Warren from her apartment, which was managed by the Commission, after she reported an attack by her ex-boyfriend to the police.

“It’s a travesty when battered women are thrown out on the street because they are the victims of violence,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan.  “These ‘zero tolerance’ polices have no compassion and discriminate against women who are by and large the victims of domestic violence.” 

After Ms. Warren reported the attack, which occurred on February 29, 2000, she received an eviction notice citing the lease which has a “one strike policy.”  That policy provides that the tenant “will be responsible for the household regardless of whether or not he or she was personally engaged in the prohibited drug or criminal action on the premises.” 

Pam Kisch, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Washtenaw County, said: “We hope that with the filing of this lawsuit that this reprehensible policy that affects hundreds of women will be ended.  The Housing Commission has no place in re-victimizing victims of domestic violence.” 

The eviction action was later dismissed due to procedural errors. The lawsuit filed today alleges that the eviction violated Ms. Warren’s right to be free from sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution, and Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.  It asks that ‘one-strike’ policy be enjoined and the defendants prohibited from evicting tenants because they are victims of domestic violence. 

A similar action was filed by the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and NOW Legal Defense Education Fund in July 2001 in Oregon. Similar zero tolerance policies are used in California, Louisiana, Colorado and Massachusetts.  

Read the complaint

The ACLU of Michigan’s Cooperating Attorneys are Debra McCulloch and William Thacker of Dykema Gossett.