FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
HOUSING DISCRIMINATION CASE SETTLED AGAINST DEVELOPERS OF BOISE, IDAHO APARTMENT COMPLEX
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the owner and developers of Columbia Village Apartments, an apartment complex in Boise, Idaho, to settle a lawsuit alleging that the complex was inaccessible to persons with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The defendants responsible for the construction and design of the Village at Columbia Apartments in Boise have agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department by retrofitting the complex to make it accessible to persons with disabilities and paying up to $42,000 in monetary damages to persons impacted by the Defendantsí failure to comply with the Fair Housing Act.
"The design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act are clear and readily achievable in new construction," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The Department will continue to hold sophisticated business entities such as these to their legal obligation to provide accessible housing."
The settlement, which must still be approved by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, resolves a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department in April 2003. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act when they designed and constructed the Village at Columbia Apartments complex in Boise without the accessibility features required by the Fair Housing Act. The settlement requires the defendants to retrofit the complex by, among other things, rebuilding or modifying sidewalks, ramps, and landings in the public areas of the complex; modifying parking spaces to provide accessible parking; retrofitting the clubhouse; and widening doorways and modifying thresholds inside the apartment units. In addition, the defendant must set aside $40,000 for other persons who were harmed by the lack of accessible features at the complex.
This matter arose out of a complaint filed by the Inter-mountain Fair Housing Council in 1998 with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. After investigating the complaint, HUD referred the matter to the Department of Justice, which filed the lawsuit.
Individuals who believe they may have been affected by the lack of accessible features at the Village of Columbia may call the Justice Department's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 800- 896-7743, extension #6. Additional information is available on the Justice Department website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability. Since January 21, 2001, the Division has filed 63 cases under the Fair Housing Act alleging discrimination based on disability, 31 of which alleged violations of the Act's design and construction provisions.