AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region v. Gilsum
Update June, 2012: GLAD has reached a successful settlement on behalf of AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region (ASMR) that will enable ASMR to continue their group home, known as the Cleve Jones Wellness House, without fear of it being taken by tax deed by the Town.
For the second time GLAD has filed a lawsuit against a New Hampshire town that is trying to shut down a group home for people living with HIV and Hepatitis C Virus.
GLAD filed the suit on behalf of AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region (ASMR) on July 5, 2011 in Cheshire Superior Court in Keene, New Hampshire. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the Town of Gilsum from taking the Cleve Jones Wellness House, operated by ASMR in Gilsum, New Hampshire, by tax deed on July 21. The Town’s action would render all of the residents of Cleve Jones Wellness House homeless.
The suit arises from the Town’s discriminatory treatment of ASMR with respect to the granting of property tax exemptions to nonprofit charitable organizations. ASMR was a few days late filing the required application for the exemption and the Town denied it on that basis. Documents requested from the Town, however, demonstrate that other nonprofits in Gilsum, such as the Congregational Church and the American Legion, never filed the required application, or filed it late, but were always granted a property tax exemption. Since ASMR, a small nonprofit, could not afford the hefty property taxes, the Town’s motive for the disparate treatment was clear: They don’t want people with HIV and Hepatitis C in the neighborhood.
After the Court scheduled a July 13 hearing on GLAD’s motion for a preliminary injunction, the Town agreed not to take the Cleve Jones Wellness House while the full lawsuit proceeds. The suit claims that the Town’s actions violated ASMR’s rights under the equal protection provisions of the state and federal constitutions, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the National Fair Housing Act. In 2008 GLAD successfully sued the Town after it placed illegal zoning restrictions on Wellness House.
ASMR is also represented by Stephen Bragdon of Bragdon, Dowd & Kossayda, P.C. in Keene and Elliott Berry of New Hampshire Legal Assistance.