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Centennial Trail Apartments Developer Sued For Discrimination
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 20, 2001

This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

POST FALLS, IDAHO--The U.S. Department of Justice has sued an Idaho developer for violating the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to include accessibility features in a new apartment complex.

Last week, Justice Department officials filed the complaint in U.S. District Court of Idaho against Taigen & Sons, Inc., and DDI Architecture & Planning, Co., developers of the Centennial Trail Apartments.

The complaint alleges that the complex has 32 ground floor apartments, none of which are accessible to people with physical disabilities. For example, interior doors, patio doors and bathrooms are too small for wheelchairs and the environmental controls cannot be reached by persons in wheelchairs.

Under the Fair Housing Act, multi-unit apartment complexes and condominiums built after March 1991 must include a number of accessibility features including doors that are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs; bathroom walls that are reinforced to for installing grab bars; electrical outlets, light switches and thermostats within reach of people in wheelchairs; and bathrooms and kitchens that are large enough for people who use wheelchairs to move about in them.

To make matters worse, the builders violated both the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing the rental office, which is considered a public accommodation, on the second floor with no way to get to it except by stairs.

In complexes that have elevators all apartments and condominiums must be accessible. Only ground floor units are required to be accessible in buildings without elevators, such as those at Centennial Trail.

"It's been more than 10 years since these requirements became law, yet multifamily housing continues to be designed and built without access to persons with disabilities," said William Yeomans, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, in a DOJ press release.

More information on the Fair Housing Act is available at the website hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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