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Mieles v. Ronald McDonald House

Location: New York
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: January 31, 2024

What's at Stake

Mieles v. Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley et al. challenges a discriminatory housing policy that bans individuals with a wide range of convictions from critical housing without consideration of the nature, severity, or recency of the conviction or incident, or an individualized assessment. Such policies unjustly and disproportionately exclude Latine and Black people from housing, in violation of the Federal Housing Act and New York State Human Rights law.

Juan Mieles, a Latino father, was discriminated against by Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley (“RMH”) and Ronald McDonald House Charities (together, “Defendants”). Mr. Mieles’s son Anthony was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer requiring intensive inpatient treatment at Maria Ferari Hospital, over an hour from their home. Mr. Mieles and his family applied for housing with RMH, where they hoped to stay close to the hospital to best care for Anthony during his treatment. At the time, Mr. Mieles’s partner was pregnant, breastfeeding their young child, and managing epilepsy

RMH denied Mr. Mieles housing after his background check returned a conviction stemming from conduct over a decade prior. In accordance with Defendants’ policy, RMH refused to consider relevant information such as the nature, severity, or recency of the offense and did not conduct an individualized assessment of Mr. Mieles’s circumstances, including mitigating information and evidence of rehabilitation since his offense. Contrary to Defendants’ mission of keeping families with ill children close to each other, RMH also refused to consider the extenuating circumstances and critical needs of Mr. Mieles’s family, including his child battling cancer. After receiving the denial, Mr. Mieles and his partner were forced to drive two hours almost daily to visit Anthony during his five weeks of treatment and could not spend as much time with Anthony as they needed. They had to trade off caring for their baby in the hospital parking lot while Anthony was being treated.

Defendants’ criminal conviction policy operates as a blanket ban on people with a wide range of criminal convictions, causing unjustified disproportionate harm to Latine people like Mr. Mieles. For example, in New York City, the conviction rate in 2019 was 3.5 times higher for Latine people than for white people. Similar disparities exist for Black people. So we’re bringing a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Mieles alleging that Defendants’ policy violates the Federal Housing Act and New York State Human Rights Law.

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