VisionQuest files lawsuit against City of Philadelphia

Cherri Gregg
April 23, 2019 - 3:23 pm
Located inside of Logan Plaza on Old York Road, The Grace Dix Center will provide temporary residential housing and services for to up to 60 migrant youth between ages 13 and 17.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Arizona-based company seeking to open up a housing facility in North Philadelphia for unaccompanied migrant youth from the U.S. border sued the City of Philadelphia. The grounds for the lawsuit was unlawful discrimination.

The 13 page complaint filed in the District of Columbia asserts that the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment's refusal to allow VisionQuest to operate a facility for migrant children was arbitrary and discriminates against Latino migrant children from Central America.  

"If it was not for the national origin of these youth, we would not even be having these discussions," said Mark Contento, in-house counsel for VisionQuest.

Plaintiffs allege that they used the Grace Dix Center on Old York Road to house Philadelphia youth with no zoning issues. The problems only arose after the company announced in January that it had obtained a federal contract to house youth from the border. 

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It was only then that the Department of Licenses and Inspections issued a violation and the zoning board denied VisionQuest's application for a variance. Vision Quest has asked a DC federal court for money damages and a court order so it can open the facility.

The company has a $3.6 million, three-year contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to house the migrant youth.

"The facility is ready to go. If this is clears up we can literally open tomorrow," Contento said. 

Earlier this month, VisionQuest appealed the zoning decision in state court.  

A spokesman for the city said in a statement that "The City is confident that the violation issued against VisionQuest was appropriate."