The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARY A. McLAUGHLIN, District Judge
Community Services Group, Inc. ("CSG") provides caretaker services to
three handicapped women who live together in a home in Wind Gap Borough.
Wind Gap Municipal Authority ("Authority") provides sewer services to
that home. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant violated the Fair
Housing Amendments Act ("FHAA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.,
by charging increased fees to and imposing additional administrative
requirements on the home on the ground that the home is a "personal care
Both parties have filed motions for summary judgment. The Court held a
hearing on February 13, 2004 and will grant the plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment and deny the defendant's motion for summary judgment.
The Court holds that the regulation discriminates against persons who
need "personal care." Because these persons by definition are
handicapped, the regulation violates the FHAA. I. Undisputed Facts
The following facts are undisputed, unless indicated otherwise.
A. The Home at 250 East First Street
In 1965, Cindy A.'s family built a single-story three-bedroom home at
250 East First Street, Wind Gap, Pennsylvania. The house is surrounded by
other residential homes in a residential community in Wind Gap Borough.
Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. and Supporting R. ("Pl.'s SJ") at 11, 38.
Cindy A. lived there with her family until her mother moved to a
nursing home in 1999. Pl.'s SJ at 38. In 1995, Cindy's family established
the Abel Family Trust ("Trust") for the benefit of Cindy, who was born
with Down's Syndrome and has mental retardation. The Trust was
established to ensure her care as she and her mother grew older. Cindy
and her three siblings are the beneficiaries of the Trust. Pl.'s SJ at
38-39; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s SJ") at Ex. G.
When the Trust was established, Cindy's mother's health was failing and
Cindy required assistance with her daily activities. Northampton County
Agencies funded in-home services to Cindy and her mother. In 1997, the
in-home services increased because of Cindy's mother's health. In
November 1999, Cindy's mother moved to a nursing home. Cindy continued to
live at the house with the assistance of a full-time caretaker, provided
through the Northampton County Mental Health and Mental Retardation
Program ("MH/MR") and family funds. Pl.'s SJ at 39.
In 2000, Cindy's family and MH/MR explored the possibility of having
other women with disabilities move into the home with Cindy to allow
Cindy to live in the home. They ultimately determined that two other
women, Cassie and Linda, would move in permanently with Cindy. The three
women, who are adults in their forties and fifties, have mental
retardation which substantially limits their ability to learn, work,
communicate, and care for themselves. Due to their physical and cognitive
disabilities, the women need assistance with their daily life activities
in order to live in the community. The women receive services from one
human services agency in order to save MH/MR's limited resources and to
allow the three women to live in a home as the functional equivalent of a
family. Pl.'s SJ at 11-12, 39-40, 53-54.
MH/MR does not provide direct care services to individuals with mental
retardation. It contracts with human services agencies to provide these
services pursuant to county, state, and federal requirements and
protocols. Without these agencies, MH/MR would be unable to fulfill its
legal obligations and provide the necessary services to its clients with mental
retardation. MH/MR has contracted with CSG for the last 25 years. Pl.'s
SJ at 10-11, 52-53.
CSG is a for-profit corporation that provides both residential and
non-residential services to persons with disabilities in Northampton
County and other counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. CSG's
mission is to promote the growth and enhance the potential of people with
disabilities. Pl.'s SJ at 10-11, 52-53.
MH/MR contracts with CSG to provide support and services to individuals
with mental retardation in their daily activities to permit them to live
in residential homes. MH/MR determined that CSG would provide caretaker
services to the three residents at East First Street. Pl.'s SJ at 11,
52-53; Def.'s SJ at Ex. C.
As part of coordinating and providing caretaker services to the three
women at the house, CSG entered into a lease agreement with the Trust.
CSG and MH/MR worked with Cindy, Cassie, and Linda and their families to
complete the necessary paperwork needed to arrange for the provision of
caretaker services. CSG and MH/MR are required by state and federal law
to document the services and funding sources. The completion of the
paperwork and the lease agreement was part of the process necessary to
enable the three women to live together as a household at 250 East First Street with the necessary caretaker
assistance. The lease agreement provided that CSG would pay the Trust
$11,400 annually. Pl.'s SJ at 11, 54; Def.'s SJ at Ex. H.
Cassie and Linda moved into the house on or about December 29, 2000 and
have lived there since that time. Pl.'s SJ at 40.
C. The Current Use of the Home
Cindy, Cassie, and Linda live in the house at 250 East First Street
together as a family unit. They have developed a strong sense of family
and intend to continue living in the home together. Each has her own
bedroom decorated with personal belongings, and they all share the common
areas of the home. Pl.'s SJ at 11-12.
On weekdays, the women typically wake up at 6:00 a.m. and get ready for
the day. They eat breakfast together at around 7:00 a.m. in the kitchen.
They leave for the day at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. to attend a day program
and/or a vocational rehabilitation program. When the women return for the
day in the afternoon, they engage in normal leisure activities and
errands, e.g., nap, walk, shop, or talk with each other. They go food
shopping, eat dinner, and help clean up together. After dinner, the women
each do as they please, e.g., they might watch television, play games, go
on walks, go to the mall, or talk. They bathe later in the evening, receiving assistance from a caretaker according to their
needs. Pl.'s SJ at 12, 16-20, 464-67.
On weekends, the women sometimes visit family or have family members
and friends visit them at their home. There are no regulations or
conditions regarding the number, frequency, or timing of visitors. Cindy,
Cassie, and Linda celebrate holidays together at home throughout the
year. At Christmas, for example, they decorate a tree and exchange
Caretakers from CSG assist Cindy, Cassie, and Linda with their
day-to-day activities, such as bathing, food preparation, and
housecleaning, so that the women are able to live in a residential home.
The caretakers use the mini-van parked in the garage to drive the women
to appointments or to various leisure activities. Cindy, Cassie, and
Linda do not require or receive clinical care, therapy, rehabilitation or
other similar services at the home. Pl.'s SJ at 16-20, 466.
The caretakers are not present in the home from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00
p.m. when the residents are not home, unless a resident has remained home
for some reason. One overnight caretaker stays in the house from
approximately 11:00 p.m. until 9:00 a.m. The overnight caretaker does not
sleep at the house. During other hours, there are generally two
caretakers and sometimes one caretaker present. About once a month ...