By Anna Kim
Chicago’s homeless shelter system discriminates against people with disabilities and fails to provide accommodations mandated by federal law, a Chicago woman claims in a federal lawsuit.
The suit, filed in federal court late Monday on behalf of the Chicago woman, accuses the city of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by not ensuring that the city’s homeless shelters and their services are accessible to people with disabilities.
Laura Martin, the plaintiff, was turned away from more than one shelter because she has difficulty walking, according to the lawsuit. After she requested help from the city’s shelter system, it took three nights to find her a place she could stay, according to the suit.
Martin, who has rheumatoid arthritis, cannot climb stairs or walk for more than one block at a time because of her disability, according to the lawsuit.
“Some of the most vulnerable people in our city are completely being denied access,” said Diane O’Connell, a Chicago Coalition for the Homeless attorney. “I mean, (the plaintiff) had to sleep in a hospital emergency room for multiple nights because there was no help for her.”
Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP, a large law firm with offices in several states, partnered with Martin in the lawsuit.