Warren v. Ypsilanti Housing Commission
What's at Stake
The ACLU represented a domestic violence victim who was threatened with eviction from public housing.
In 2002, the ACLU filed lawsuits in both federal court and Washtenaw County Circuit Court in Michigan on behalf of Aaronica Warren, a single mother and then-VISTA volunteer who was living in public housing run by the Ypsilanti Housing Commission.
On February 29, 2000, after Warren had put her son to bed, a former boyfriend forced his way into the apartment and immediately became abusive. He threw Warren into the entertainment center and then picked her off the ground, dragged her outside, and threw her face first into the pavement. Warren called the police to report the assault. When the YHC learned about the incident, it went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to evict Warren and her son from the apartment, relying on a “one-strike rule” in its lease that permitted it to evict tenants if there was any violence in a tenant’s apartment – even if the tenant was the victim of the violence.
The ACLU argued in its lawsuits that because victims of domestic violence are almost always women, the policy of evicting domestic violence victims based on the violence perpetrated against them was unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and the Michigan civil rights law.
In 2003, the parties reached a precedent-setting settlement. Under the agreement, the YHC agreed to end its application of the no-strike rule against domestic violence victims. It also agreed to pay Warren money damages for the stress and humiliation she faced in having to defend against the eviction.