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.
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
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
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