Stopping Wealth-Based Banishment in Arkansas

Resized_20170905_171835Yesterday, Equal Justice Under Law finalized a settlement in our first-of-its kind federal lawsuit, challenging as unconstitutional the city of McCrory, Arkansas’ policy of banishing residents simply because they were too poor to afford a more expensive home.

In the fall of 2016, McCrory’s City Council passed a Trailer-Banishment Ordinance that forbade any mobile home valued at less than $7,500 to remain within the city limits. Our clients, David Watlington and Lindsey Hollaway, live in a trailer worth approximately $1,500, so the couple was ordered to leave the city. Lindsey works at the local labeling and packaging plant, but the couple only makes about $13,000 a year – well below the federal poverty time. Their only “crime” was being too poor to afford a more expensive home.

As a result of our lawsuit, McCrory repealed its Trailer-Banishment Ordinance, ended this discriminatory practice, and today, finalized a settlement with David and Lindsey. As part of the agreement, the City obtained a court order eliminating all of the fines the City had assessed against Mr. Watlington and has agreed to provide the plaintiffs with an additional monetary payment. In return, David and Lindsey will dismiss their lawsuit.

We here at Equal Justice Under Law are proud to stand up against such unconscionable discrimination.  No one should fear being chased out of their hometown simply because they’re too poor to afford a more expensive residence. McCrory, and all of our communities, should invest in residents rather than criminalize poverty.