Lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Granite City’s ‘crime free’ housing ordinances

GRANITE CITY, Ill. - A lawsuit filed on behalf of a  landlord and his renters challenging the constitutionality of an ordinance aimed at keeping neighborhoods safe.

The lawsuit contends Jessica Barron, Kenny Wiley, and their three teenage sons, are being forced out of their home on Maple Street illegally. The family says they’re being evicted because of a crime committed by someone staying with them. The city’s crime-free housing ordinances allow the city to force a landlord to evict a family from their home if someone staying at the home is involved in criminal activity.

“Granite City’s ordinance provides that if you rent in Granite City, the city can force you out of your home even if you did nothing wrong,” said Institute for Justice attorney Sam Gedge. “It’s enough that a guest or a member of your household committed a crime and the crime doesn’t even have to be on your property. This is a classic example of guilt by association and it’s a profound due process violation.”

A city official said the home has been the source of several complaints by neighborhood watch groups. Several crimes have stemmed from that residence. The lawsuit maintains the ordinance gives the city the power to punish the wrong people.

“We want to affirm that government cannot punish innocent people,” said Gedge. “That’s a fundamental right and one we’re confident the courts will uphold.”

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