A Pennsylvania church claims in a new lawsuit that the city of Allentown violated federal law when it denied the congregation’s request to operate a group home for men recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
Allentown Victory Church filed the federal suit on July 9, alleging that the city’s denial violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and other federal laws, according to The Morning Call newspaper.
“It’s our position that the city violated the FHA in several aspects,” attorney Steve Polin told the newspaper.
The church opened the home in 2019 with 11 residents before asking the city to give it permission to have up to 18 people living in the home, the newspaper said. The house, known as the Recover Victory Home, has 10 bedrooms. The church says the home needs at least 15 residents to be financially stable, according to Morning Call.
The city denied the permit in 2019.
The lawsuit claims the city failed to consider the residents’ disabilities and effectively denied housing opportunities to recovering alcoholics and substance abusers, the newspaper reported.
Residents take part in a 9–12-month program at the home, according to the ministry’s website.
Recover Victory Home is only for men.
“We saw a gap, a problem. When men got out of jail or rehab, we saw too many of them get disconnected with God and the right people, and they ended up back where they started, back in jail or rehab,” the ministry’s website says. “There were not enough good transitional places, especially that were Christ-Centered. So God birthed in our Heart Recover Victory Home. A home for men in need of recovery from drugs, alcohol or other addictions.”
For the first four weeks, residents face major restrictions on leaving the house.
Residents must attend Bible study and church services while performing chores and community service. They also must search for jobs. They face random drug tests.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.