October 05, 2005

DOJ settles housing access suit

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express

WASHINGTON, DC -- More than 5,400 ground-floor apartments in 49 complexes in seven states will be made more accessible under an agreement announced on September 30 by the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to a DOJ press release, developer Edward Rose & Associates and several architectural firms in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin agreed to retrofit the buildings and rental offices to make them more accessible to wheelchair users and other residents and guests with disabilities.

The agreement settles two Justice Department suits, one filed in 2001 and the other in 2002, alleging that the apartments violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The firms will also pay up to $950,000 to individuals harmed by the lack of accessible features on the properties, and to pay a $110,000 civil penalty.

Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said: "While it is less expensive to make housing accessible in the first place, we are pleased with the defendants' cooperation with the government to reach this agreement, which retrofits nearly 50 apartment complexes."

Posted on October 05, 2005