ACLU sues Woonsocket over Sojourner grant denial

WOONSOCKET – The ACLU of Rhode Island is suing the city on behalf of Providence-based Sojourner House over what it claims was an arbitrary denial of a municipal grant earlier this year, The Valley Breeze reported Aug. 20.

The nonprofit organization operates two facilities in Woonsocket, an emergency shelter and an apartment complex for victims of domestic violence.

According to the ACLU, Woonsocket officials notified Sojourner the city would withhold a $35,000 grant and potentially suspend the agency’s ability to participate in future grant programs due to property code violations at the emergency shelter.

The following month, according to the ACLU, the organization was told it was ineligible to participate in future city grant programs after Sojourner Executive Director Vanessa Volz sought intervention by state and federal agencies.

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The lawsuit contends the denial is a violation of the organization’s First Amendment rights.

City officials could not be immediately reached for comment.