Senior Citizens Banned From Decorating Homes with Christmas Lights

It’s not beginning to look like Christmas at a neighborhood for senior citizens in Independence, Missouri.

Residents of the Grandview Estates were told they could not decorate the outside of their homes with Christmas decorations. No lights. No Nativity Scenes. Not even an inflatable Frosty the Snowman.

In previous years, the senior citizens proudly adorned their lawns and their homes with festive lights and other traditional Christmas decorations. But not this year.

Grandview Estates, which is a HUD-subsidized residential complex, warned residents that if they violated the rules – they could face eviction.

MACO Management Company did allow the seniors to post a wreath – but only if it was a “holiday” wreath – not a Christmas wreath.

Liberty Counsel – a law firm that handles religious liberty cases – says the management company that runs Grandview Estates is violating the law.

INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI—A property management company of a 55 and older housing development in Missouri has banned residents from decorating their duplexes with outside Christmas lights and yard decorations.

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the MACO Management Company on behalf of residents at Grandview Estates, a HUD-subsidized residential complex. MACO Management has prohibited residents from decorating their duplexes with outside Christmas decorations, including lights and yard decorations. Nothing in the lease agreement or regulations supports such a ban and residents have previously displayed Christmas lights and yard decorations for many years.

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This ban violates the Fair Housing Act. MACO is forbidden by the Act from discriminating against residents at this facility on the basis of religion. Religious free exercise includes the display of holiday decorations. Christmas is a nationally recognized holiday and to ban religious decorations or celebrations in a federally subsidized or managed residential facility violates the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws. Any federal law or funding requirement that would restrict or prohibit residents’ religious holiday decorations would violate the First Amendment rights of the residents.

Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “MACO’s banning Grandview Estates residents from their longstanding traditions of displaying Christmas or other religious holiday decorations constitutes discrimination based on religion and violates the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws. Nothing in the lease agreement or regulations supports such a ban. MACO Management Company must allow residents to decorate their duplexes,” said Staver.

“MACO’s banning Grandview Estates residents from their longstanding traditions of displaying Christmas or other religious holiday decorations constitutes discrimination based on religion and violates the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws. Nothing in the lease agreement or regulations supports such a ban. MACO Management Company must allow residents to decorate their duplexes,” said Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver.

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The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color and religion.

In 2001 the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a statement to public housing directors – reminding them that residents have a right to display religious symbols to celebrate faith-based events.

And Christmas is a faith-based event.

Let’s hope Liberty Counsel is able to talk some sense into those Christmas Scrooges at MACO Management.