DOJ Settles Apartment Suit Against Developers, Builders, Architects
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 2, 2006
AUSTIN, TEXAS--The U.S. Department of Justice settled a lawsuit last week that, if approved by a federal court, will result in accessibility improvements at two recently constructed housing developments.
According to a DOJ press release, the suit had been filed against 10 Texas developers, builders, architects, and engineers, alleging that they violated accessibility requirements under the federal Fair Housing Act. That law requires ground-floor apartments to include accessibility features such as wide doors and hallways; light switches, electrical outlets, and thermostats at a level that wheelchair users can reach; walls in ground-floor bathrooms that are reinforced for grab bars; and no-step entries.
The case concerns the newly built St. John's village, a complex with 156 rental apartment, including 52 ground-floor units, and Huntington Meadows, a complex with 200 rental units, including 110 ground-floor units.
To settle the suit, the defendants agreed to make the ground-floor units accessible, as well as parking areas, paths, walkways, and public and common-use areas. They also agreed to establish a $50,000 fund to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing; pay $10,000 in civil penalties to the government; undergo training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act; and report periodically to the government on the status of their facilities.