Bronx Developer Agrees to Increase Accessibility for People with Disabilities

A Bronx, N.Y., developer recently agreed to settle a federal fair housing case accusing it of failing to build two rental housing communities, which together contain more than 120 units, with accessible features for persons with disabilities.

Federal fair housing law requires that multifamily housing constructed for first occupancy after Mar. 13, 1991, have basic features accessible to persons with disabilities.

The complaint alleged that the two rental complexes, which were designed and constructed by the developer, have a number of inaccessible features, including bedroom, bathroom, and balcony doors that are not wide enough to accommodate people in wheelchairs, excessively high thresholds within individual units, thermostats and light switches located too high above the floor, and common area bathrooms that lack grab bars.

Under the settlement, the developer agreed to make retrofits to both the public and common use areas and the individual units to ensure that the communities are accessible. The developer also has agreed to establish procedures to ensure that its future residential development projects will comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements. Last year, the court issued a preliminary injunction that required the developer to ensure accessibility at two other rental complexes currently under development in the Bronx.

Additionally, the settlement requires the developer to provide up to $105,000 to compensate aggrieved persons and to pay a civil penalty of $37,500.

In a statement, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “The Fair Housing Act’s accessibility provisions protect people with disabilities wherever they live. Today’s settlement is part of the Office’s long-standing effort to fulfill the FHA’s promise of accessibility throughout the counties in the Southern District of New York.”