Thursday, April 09, 2015

Ministry Can Proceed On RLUIPA Equal Terms Claim Over Transitional Housing

In Holy Ghost Revival Ministries v. City of Marysville, (WD WA, April 7, 2015), pastors who operate a group "Mack houses"-- low-cost transitional housing facilities for released convicts, many of whom are registered sex offenders-- brought suit in federal district court.  They claim that the city has a policy of discriminating against them because of their religion and that city officials promote citizen complaints about Mack houses.  The court concluded that there was not religious discrimination because the city's objections rest on the fact that the housing caters to registered sexual offenders.  However the court did permit plaintiffs to proceed on one of their RLUIPA claims:
Because the complaint alleges that the Mack Houses, which are religious institutions, were singled out by the City for enforcement of the zoning code, the court concludes that Plaintiffs have adequately alleged treatment on a less than equal basis with secular comparators, such as other group housing institutions.