HOPE Fair Housing Center settles civil rights case against city of West Chicago


For Immediate Release
November 20, 2003

Contact Persons:
Bernard J. Kleina  (630) 690-6500  ext.4
Florentina Rendon (630) 690-6500  ext 8
Jeffrey L. Taren (312) 663-5210

(WHEATON, Ill.) -- HOPE Fair Housing Center announces that, with the assistance of the United States Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier, it has settled the pending legal actions filed by the families of Rigoberto and Hugo Romero and by HOPE Fair Housing Center against the City of West Chicago, involving claims of discrimination against Hispanic residents in the enforcement of West Chicago's Building Codes.

The City of West Chicago will pay the Romero family, HOPE and HOPE's lawyers a total of $100,000.00 as part of the settlement and will enter into a four-year contract with HOPE to provide Fair Housing services to the City.  The parties have also agreed upon a series of program and policy changes that are designed to ensure that the safety of all West Chicago residents is maintained and at the same time, that all laws are enforced fairly and without regard to national origin.   Bernard Kleina, Executive Director of HOPE Fair Housing Center, said that,  "We are very pleased we were able to resolve these cases.  The policy changes agreed upon will benefit not only the Hispanic community but every neighborhood in the City.  West Chicago officials acted responsibly and in the interest of all by agreeing to work with HOPE toward this resolution.  We look forward to a cooperative relationship in the future."

The Agreement encompasses the following types of programmatic changes:

  • Revised inspection warrant procedures to insure uniform practices and legal safeguards.
  • Restrictions on the ability of the City to seek the names and address of registered students for Building Code enforcement purposes. 
  • Policies to ensure that Spanish speaking City personnel are available to assist in all Building Inspections where needed.
  • The creation of a Bilingual Public Information Officer to assist residents in dealing with Code Enforcement activities.
  • Revised procedures for the issuance of Overcrowding Citations.
  • Restrictions on the scope of warrant inspections.
  • The establishment of a formalized grievance system by which citizens may lodge complaints about the code enforcement process.
  • The establishment of procedures to maintain the privacy of certain investigative documents.

The Romero families and HOPE Fair Housing Center were represented by
Jeffrey L. Taren and Joanne Kinoy from the law firm of Kinoy, Taren and Geraghty, P.C.