Ohio Civil Rights Commission Reaches Settlement with Cleveland Apartment Operators

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced the settlement of a discrimination claim against the developers, designers, owners, and builders of several Cleveland residential rental communities. Officials say that the settlement agreement substantially increases the availability of accessible housing opportunities in downtown Cleveland for persons with mobility limitations.

In 2008, a fair housing organization filed the discrimination charge, alleging that rental and condominium units in the communities didn’t comply with federal and state accessibility guidelines. According to the charge, applicants were being systematically denied equal access to housing opportunities within these properties in violation of the fair housing laws.

After a preliminary investigation, the commission concluded that properties violated federal and state fair housing laws by creating inaccessible living conditions for individuals with disabilities. Among other things, the commission said that there were not enough disabled parking spaces on accessible routes throughout the complex to allow safe travel for persons who rely on wheelchairs for mobility. In addition, the properties allegedly failed to provide units with space wide enough to allow those in wheelchairs to pass through hallways and use the bathrooms or kitchens.

Under the settlement, more than 100 units within the properties will be redesigned to fully comply with all accessibility standards within a five-year period. The developers and the others also agreed to cover expert costs, attorney fees, and to create a fund to assist persons with disabilities to secure modifications to their housing accommodations to make them accessible.

“Failing to take the appropriate steps to ensure accessibility for our disabled population is not only unsafe for this group of individuals, but has the effect of excluding a group of residents who deserve equal access to basic housing needs,” G. Michael Payton, the commission’s executive director, said in a statement. “We hope that this case will shed light on the impediments to equal housing opportunities for disabled individuals and facilitate understanding and encourage compliance with the design and construction provisions in our state’s housing market.”

Source: Ohio Civil Rights Commission