Reno Apartment Builders Settle Housing Accessibility Suit
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 14, 2005
RENO, NEVADA--Three Reno firms have agreed to spend more than $2 million to settle a federal housing discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
According to a DOJ press release, the suit alleged that building developer ERGS, Inc., civil engineering firm CFA, Inc., and architect John McCamant violated the federal Fair Housing Act by designing and building the Silver Lake Apartments and Sierra Sage Apartments without making them accessible to people with disabilities.
The suit was prompted by the Reno-based Silver State Fair Housing Council (SSFHC), which filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Justice Department later joined the Council's suit.
The complaint alleged that the firms failed to make public and common use areas accessible to individuals with disabilities; to make doors in ground-floor units wide enough for wheelchairs; to place electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; and to build kitchen and bathrooms large enough for an individual using a wheelchair to move about.
Under the settlement terms, the firms agreed to spend $1.67 million on improvements to make the complexes more accessible. The settlement also awards the Housing Council $27,500 in damages and $250,000 for attorney's fees, and requires the firms to pay a $30,000 civil fine and $150,000 into a fund to compensate people who have been injured by the inaccessible housing.
"Cutting corners in the construction of new housing does not pay," Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in the press statement.
"The design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act are clear and readily achievable in new construction."
"Amended Housing Discrimination Complaint - U.S. v. ERGS, Inc., et al." (Department of Justice)