HUD Claims NY Condo Complex Isn't Accessible to Persons with Disabilities

HUD recently charged housing professionals based in New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia with discrimination for failing to design and construct a 40-unit condominium development in Brooklyn, N.Y., to comply with the accessibility requirements of federal fair housing law.

Federal fair housing law requires that multifamily housing built after March 1991 contain accessible features for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common areas, bathrooms and kitchens, as well as wider doors and environmental controls that can be reached by residents who use wheelchairs. The failure to include these features is unlawful and makes the property difficult or impossible to use by people with disabilities.

The case began when HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity initiated a complaint after HUD staff found that the condominium complex failed to meet the design and construction requirements mandated by the Fair Housing Act. According to the charge, the condo development lacked accessible routes and entrances into and through the common areas and units accessible kitchens and accessible bathrooms.

The charge will be heard by a U.S. administrative law judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court.

“When developers and builders fail to construct housing that complies with the Fair Housing Act, they not only violate the law, they make it more difficult for persons with disabilities to obtain the accessible housing they need,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “Today’s action reflects HUD’s ongoing commitment to taking action when housing providers fall short of meeting their legal obligations.”

“The Fair Housing Act requires that housing built since 1991 contain basic features of accessibility. These features are less expensive to provide at the time of construction than after the building has been completed,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “HUD will continue to take action to bring inaccessible housing into compliance with the law.”