Housing Accessibility Lawsuit Filed

DOJ filed a lawsuit under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act against owners, developers, and design professionals involved in the building of nine multi-family housing complexes in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The projects include over 2,000 apartments with over 800 accessible, ground-level units. The lawsuit alleges that the properties are not accessible to people with disabilities because they do not have accessible pedestrian routes or parking; have doors that are too narrow for people who use wheelchairs and inaccessible environmental controls, such as light switches; and have kitchens and bathrooms that are not accessible. Read the DOJ’s press release.

HUD settles with bank over lending discrimination

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) entered into a settlement agreement with Charles Schwab Bank in a housing discrimination case. The bank had refused to allow a woman with a disability whose son was acting with her power of attorney to apply for a housing loan. The bank’s position was that it did not accept powers of attorney for incapacitated borrowers. The Fair Housing Act prohibits such policies because they have a discriminatory effect against people with disabilities. Schwab agreed to pay $30,000 to settle the case and to train its employees about the Fair Housing Act. To read HUD’s press release about the case, go to http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUDsrc=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2011/HUDNo.11-031

DOJ settles with Idaho condominium developer

The Department of Justice settled a Fair Housing discrimination complaint against a condominium developer in Post Falls, Idaho.  The condos were not made accessible when they were built and an individual with a disability filed a complaint.  The developer has agreed to retrofit the complex and pay the individual with a disability $13,500 and pay a $5,000 fine to DOJ.  For more information, see http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/February/11-crt-209.html

DOJ reaches settlement in Fair Housing Act suit

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement with Warren Properties Inc. which manages 85 properties with more than 11,000 housing units in 15 states. The case involved a person with a mobility impairment who asked to move to a first floor apartment. The request was denied and the person was hurt when he fell down the stairs. Under the consent decree, the defendants must pay $1,195,000 to compensate the tenant, along with an additional $55,000 in fees and costs to the government. The defendants must hire a reasonable accommodation facilitator to handle requests for reasonable accommodations in all of its properties. The defendants must also attend fair housing training, implement a non-discrimination policy, and comply with notice, monitoring and reporting requirements. To read DOJ’s press release, see http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/December/10-crt-1482.html