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Judge Grants MHH&H Motion Annulling Suffolk County Law Regulating Substance Abuse Houses As Being In Conflict With The Federal Fair Housing Act


Garden City, New York; February 18, 2010 – Moritt Hock Hamroff & Horowitz LLP announced today that Judge Joseph F. Bianco of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, granted the firm’s motion for summary judgment on February 17, 2010, on behalf of its client Oxford House, annulling Suffolk County’s local law regulating substance abuse houses on the basis that the law was facially discriminatory and was preempted by the Federal Fair Housing Act.

The invalidated Suffolk County law was enacted in 2003 over a veto of the then County Executive.  The law would have placed substantial restrictions on substance abuse houses such as limiting the number of persons living in them and requiring all of them to have a 24/7 live-in social worker.

The action was commenced in 2003 on behalf of Moritt Hock Hamroff & Horowitz LLP’s client Oxford House, a leading organization in the country that has established over 1200 substance abuse houses throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.  The houses provide residences where groups of people recovering from alcoholism and substance abuse can work together in their recovery.  Robert L. Schonfeld, Of Counsel, at Moritt Hock Hamroff & Horowitz LLP represented Oxford House.  He stated “In striking the law the Court held that Suffolk County had failed to provide any evidence that the local law was justified or furthered any legitimate, bona fide governmental interest.”

Robert Schonfeld, of the firm, further stated “This case is a significant victory because if the law had been upheld it would have deprived many people disabled by alcohol and substance abuse problems of their ability to maintain the kind of housing needed as an integral part of the road to recovery.” Moreover, he stated “The Oxford House residence in Suffolk County has been in operation for nineteen years. It has helped many people in their recovery with no negative impact on its community.”

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