Circuit Dismisses ASWAN Conspiracy Claim over Conrad Center

By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 26, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a conspiracy claim filed by a coalition of homeless and formerly homeless people this week, finding that the group had failed to make its case.

On Wednesday, the circuit court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of all claims in A Society Without a Name, For People Without a Home, Millennium Future-Present v. Virginia, (ASWAN v. Virginia). In the suit, ASWAN alleged that the defendants had conspired to establish the Conrad Center on Oliver Hill Way, a site removed from Richmond’s downtown community, for the purpose of reducing the presence of the homeless population in the downtown area by providing services for them in a remote location.

ASWAN claimed that the relocation of homeless services to the Conrad Center violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

The Conrad Center is located about two miles from downtown Richmond in a location that is isolated and removed from Richmond's downtown community and VCU's campus. ASWAN maintains that the defendants purposefully placed the Conrad Center in this location to make the homeless less visible to, and segregate them from, Richmond's downtown community and the VCU campus. According to ASWAN, the plan was rooted in class, race, and disability prejudice.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals notes that ASWAN's conspiracy claim fails because it is comprised almost entirely of conclusory allegations unsupported by concrete facts. The court found that ASWAN's ADA and FHA claims were both time-barred, and that, regardless of filing limitations, ASWAN failed to state an FHA claim upon which relief could be granted.

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