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Law Office of Daniel

Community residences for people with disabilities:
Group Homes, Small Assisted Living Homes, Sober Homes, Small Halfway Houses — and Fair Housing

Working with both cities and providers, we are nationally known for our pioneering work starting way
back in 1974 to bring rationality and fairness to zoning for “community residences” for people with disabilities:

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 Amend Your Local or State Zoning for Community Residences, Small Assisted Living Homes, Sober Homes and Recovery Communities To Comply With the Nation’s Fair Housing Act

Comply with the Fair Housing Act and avoid costly litigation by replacing illegal excessive regulations on community residences for people with disabilities with rationally–based zoning provisions. We have helped scores of communities write zoning amendments for community residences that provide the maximum rational and legal regulation permissible under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. We have not heard of any court decision invalidating any of the zoning regulations we have written for community residences, small assisted living homes, sober homes, and recovery communities. As part of our services we conduct a thorough study that provides the rational basis for the zoning amendments we write. This study is an essential component for surviving a court challenge. Courts often invalidate zoning requirements for a spacing distance between these land uses as well licensing requirements because the jurisdiction fails to demonstrate a need for either requirement. Our studies document that need.

Daniel Lauber was simply outstanding in assisting Clark County, Nevada in drafting a revised community residence ordinance.  We relied heavily on Daniel’s expertise of federal fair housing law and on his experience in tactfully addressing questions and concerns of elected officials and stakeholders.  His work was first rate and he was a pleasure to work with.”
— Rob Warhola, Assistant States Attorney, Clark County, Nevada

We have conducted workshops, seminars, and national conference sessions on zoning for community residences from Alaska to New York, even educating representatives from the attorneys general offices from all 50 states.

We have written the model zoning for community residences for the American Bar Association and the American Planning Association.

 About Us:  Click here for our attorney/planner Daniel Lauber’s experience with zoning for group homes, sober homes, small assisted living homes, and recovery communities.

Click here for Planning/Communications website with all the services we provide — plus loads of free resources you can download.

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 Zoning principles for community residences, sober homes, assisted living in accord with the Fair Housing Act

While far too many cities and counties try to impose excessive regulations on community residences and small assisted living homes that fly in the face of the nation’s Fair Housing Act, far too many fair housing advocates insist that jurisdictions cannot regulate community residences at all. All too often jurisdictions allow community residences for some disabled populations, but not for others. But no jurisdiction can pick and choose which disabled populations are allowed and which are not.

The proper and legal zoning for community residences and small asssisted living homes lies somewhere in the middle. Below are three publications that detail — in plain English — the basic principles for zoning that complies with the nation’s Fair Housing Act ranging from a simple 1–page summary to a detailed 38–page law review article that provides all the details and citations.

Three Decades On Article 


  All the zoning principles summarized in one page

Here’s a simple one–page article recounting the basic principles for zoning for community residences. It was published in the November 2015 issue of Planning magazine. Just click here to read or download.



  Most current and a bit more detailed summary of zoning principles in two pages

This two–page summary provides the most up–to–date statement of principles on which to base zoning provisions for community residences for people with disabilities. It explains how far cities and counties can go in their regulation of community residences. And it updates the law review article shown immediately below. Click here to read or download this more detailed and more current summary.



  In–depth law review article (in plain English) detailing the basis for these zoning principles with citations 

To understand the rationale for zoning regulations for community residences as well as the limits of how far a city can go in regulating community residences for people with disabilities, download one of the most thorough and insightful law review articles that spells out the basis for rational zoning restrictions on community residences for people with disabilities with thorough citations:
A Real LULU: Zoning for Group Homes and Halfway Houses Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, in The John Marshall Law Review, Winter 1996, pp. 369–407.

Be sure to also read the two–page summary immediately above which updates and supplements “A Real LULU….”
As of 2021, other law review articles are still citing “A Real LULU….”

Click here for our city planning and law website.

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community residence zoning summary
Law review article cover


 Expert testimony on amending zoning provisions for community residences for
 people with disabilities to comply with the Fair Housing Act

Boulder City Group Home WorkshopMr. Lauber has provided expert testimony before countless zoning boards, planning commissions, and city councils as well as for the U.S. Department of Justice in the defining 2001 Chicago Heights case. He was primary author of the American Planning Association’s successful amicus brief in support of the group home and upholding the Fair Housing Act in the pivotal U.S. Supreme Court decision in City of Edmonds v. Oxford House 115 S.Ct. 1776 (1995).

See Mr. Lauber's webinar with Terrill Pyburn on zoning for sober homes and recovery communities conducted for the 2021 Annual Conference of the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association. Keep in mind that the audience consisted of city planners in Illinois — the regulators — and that they were not acting as advocates for sober homes, but for the rational zoning treatment of them in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. It’s a very candid, no holds barred presentation and Q&A. Download the written materials from:

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  Legal representation for Group Home, Sober Home, Assisted Living Home Operators: 
 Understand the zoning requirements and your legal rights before you buy or apply for zoning approval

Many proposed community residences and assisted living homes run into difficulty with local zoning because:

We have over 40 years experience winning zoning approval across the nation for community residences (group homes, sober homes, small assisted living homes, and recovery communities) for people with disabilities. We have often convinced local officials to permit a community residence as a permited use allowed as of right rather than require a special use permit and the requisite public hearing. We have helped operators of proposed community residences nurture the neighbors to prevent neighborhood opposition and win support from neighbors.

We are well–versed in how the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 banned the use of restrictive covenants on private property to exclude community residences for people with disabilities and have successfully convinced homeowners associations to allow these homes.

We have also served as an expert witness before zoning boards and in both federal and state court in significant group home cases.

We have written the model zoning for community residences for the American Bar Association and the American Planning Association.

 About Us:  Click here for our attorney and professional planner Daniel Lauber’s experience with zoning for group homes, other community residences, and recovery communities.


 Get the facts: Studies on the Impacts of Community Residences

We have conducted scientific research to determine whether or not community residences have any effect on property values — and have put together a short annotated bibliography of other reliable, scientific studies as well which you can download or view by clicking here. No matter which research technique they use, the studies have found that community residences that are licensed and not clustered on a block have absolutely no impact on property values, neighborhood safety, or community character.

cover illinois group home impact studyDownload a key scientific Illinois study on the impact of group homes on property values,
property turnover, and neighborhood safety. It includes annotated bibliography of other studies.
The findings of the 50+ studies that have been conducted have been so consistently conclusive that
— like studies of the link between smoking and cancer — nobody is funding these studies any more.

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By contacting this website you are not creating an attorney–client relationship. Such a relationship would only come into being upon signing a written fee and retention agreement. Moreover, no communication on this website should be considered privileged under the attorney–client privilege. Please be advised that there is no expectation of confidentiality regarding any communication you may send us in response to this website.