More on the Black Jack Story

Since Ed wrote Those Good Ol’ Family Values, a previous post I wrote on the subject has started receiving some comments, so I though I would provide this update. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the family that has been denied an occupancy permit by the City Council of Black Jack, MO.

The council voted 5-3 against a recommendation made last month by the planning and zoning commission that would have allowed “two unrelated individuals having a child or children related by blood, adoption or foster care relationship to both such individuals” to live in a single-family dwelling together.


Mayor Norman McCourt issued this statement to explain the city’s position: “The purpose of these occupancy permit laws generally is to avoid overcrowding by non-related parties, assure the lifelong maintenance of the city’s housing stock, prevent new buyers from being obligated to repair residences that were not kept up to code, preserve the character of the neighborhoods and the city, and to protect the general safety and welfare of the city’s residents.”
The surprise decision followed months of public outcry against the city for denying occupancy permits to unmarried couples who have more than one child. The current ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by “blood, marriage or adoption.” It had been used to prevent unwed people from living together with their children

Reactions to the decision differ:

Black Jack resident Rose Curtis, 65, said she thought the City Council made the right decision.
“As a woman, I’m not going to let a man have babies by me and not marry me,” Curtis said. “I think it was a fair decision. It’s cut and dried.”
Yolanda Duncan, 50, of Black Jack, said she, too, was surprised. “I hoped they would be able to stay a family,” she said.

Previos posts of mine on the issue can be found here and here.
Still more here:

A day after the City Council rejected a measure to loosen its rule about what kind of family may live within its borders, Black Jack’s legal adviser adamantly insisted that no one will be thrown out of a home for failing to fit the definition.
“We can’t evict them because the law doesn’t let us evict them,” the city’s special counsel, Sheldon K. Stock, said Wednesday.


The city could take Shelltrack and others in her situation to municipal court for failing to have an occupancy permit. If found guilty, the residents could be fined up to $500. But the decision could be appealed to St. Louis County Circuit Court.


The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating the issue, based on formal complaints filed by Shelltrack and Watson. The American Civil Liberties Union also is considering legal action.

As well they should…

%d bloggers like this: