Municipal Regulation of Group Homes and Sober Living Arrangements

Navigating Complex Legal and Policy Issues When Zoning for Community Residences for People With Disabilities

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide guidance to municipal attorneys for grappling with the complex legal and policy challenges of regulating community residences for people with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the impact of statewide zoning statutes. The panel will discuss sound planning and zoning practices within the context of these statutes and touch upon the November 2016 Joint Statement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Justice (DOJ) on the application of the FHA to local land use practices and zoning laws for community residences for people with disabilities.


Regulating community residences for people with disabilities is one of the most challenging issues municipalities confront, fraught with local politics conflicting with federal and state laws. Despite decades of studies consistently finding that community residences have no effect on property values or neighborhood safety, potential neighbors still come out in droves to oppose them.

Countless cities and counties continue to violate the FHA and state zoning statutes with excessive zoning restrictions. Even some state statutes fail to fully comply with the FHA. The result has been protracted and costly litigation. A growing amount of the litigation surrounds municipalities adopting zoning provisions or other policies that intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against group homes for people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.

The Joint Statement that HUD and the DOJ issued in November 2016 provides some guidance to cities to regulate community residences in a manner that ensures the safety of communities while protecting the rights of group home residents to be protected from discrimination as required by the FHA.

Counsel to local governments must stay abreast of evolving trends regarding regulating community residences and develop effective strategies to address the legal and policy issues presented.

Listen as our authoritative panel analyzes the legal implications of zoning and local licensing regulations for community residences for people with disabilities and outlines best practices in this area from a legal and policy perspective.



  1. Community residences defined and policy considerations for regulating community residences for people with disabilities
  2. Legal and regulatory framework: applicable federal and state statutes
  3. The fact-specific nature of the oft-confusing case law
  4. Best zoning (and local licensing) practices for regulating community residences for people with disabilities


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What community residences for people with disabilities are, their purposes, how they function, and why case law overwhelmingly found them to be residential uses well before disabilities were added to the Fair Housing Act’s coverage in 1988
  • Legal and policy issues counsel to local governments must consider in determining whether an ordinance regulating community residences is lawful
  • The maximum extent to which local governments may restrict community residences for people with disabilities
  • Best practices for municipal attorneys for drafting zoning restrictions on community residences for people with disabilities



Daniel Lauber
Daniel Lauber

Law Office of Daniel Lauber

Fair housing/zoning attorney and city planner Daniel Lauber, AICP has been reforming zoning for community residences...  |  Read More

Henry C. Luthin
Henry C. Luthin
First Assistant Corporation Counsel
City of Boston

Mr. Luthin has oversight of the Government Services section of the Boston Law Department. He was previously General...  |  Read More

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