DOJ: Communities in Three States Lack Required Accessibility

April 30, 2011
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May 2011: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently filed a lawsuit against the owners, developers, and design professionals involved in the design and construction of nine multifamily housing complexes in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Together, the communities include more than 2,000 units, including more than 800 ground-floor units that are required by the Fair Housing Act to contain accessible features. Eight of the complexes contain leasing offices that are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to contain accessible features.
According to the complaint, the communities are inaccessible to persons with disabilities because they allegedly: lack accessible pedestrian routes; lack accessible parking; have steep cross and running slopes; have doors that are not sufficiently wide enough to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; have insufficient accessible routes into and through the units; have light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in inaccessible locations; and/or have kitchens and bathrooms that are inaccessible to persons in wheelchairs.
The complaint also alleges that the leasing offices are inaccessible to persons with disabilities because, for example, they lack accessible pedestrian approach routes, lack compliant parking spaces, have inaccessible counters, and/or have inaccessible door hardware.
Among other things, the lawsuit seeks monetary damages for persons harmed by the alleged discriminatory housing practices as well as a court order to require the defendants to bring the covered units and public and common areas into compliance with fair housing laws.
“The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act include provisions to ensure that persons with disabilities have opportunities to find and live comfortably in multifamily housing across the nation,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The department will continue its vigorous pursuit of equal housing opportunities for all people, including those with disabilities.”

Source: U.S. Department of Justice