WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with a developer and an architectural firm in Spokane, Washington, resolving a lawsuit that alleged disability related housing discrimination. Under the agreement, the developer and architectural firm have agreed to retrofit 10 apartment complexes in Spokane and pay $540,000.
"This settlement agreement makes clear that the federal government takes accessibility requirements for multi-family housing seriously," said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "It is much less expensive to make housing accessible in the first place than it is to fix it later. We commend the defendants for working cooperatively with the government to resolve this matter."
According to the governmentís complaint, the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act in the design and construction of their housing properties. These properties, including Cedar Springs Estates I though IV; Cedar Creek Village I and II; Cedar Chateau Estates A and Cedar Chateaus Estates B; Cedar Forest Estates; and Cedar Canyon Villas, will be retrofitted to enhance their accessibility to individuals with physical disabilities. The agreement will affect over 700 ground floor apartments in the Spokane area.
Under the agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, the defendants will retrofit the complexes to make them more accessible; pay up to $500,000 to individuals harmed by the lack of accessible features at the properties, $450,000 of which will be distributed to persons identified through a process set forth in the decree; spend $15,000 on accessibility training for local designers and developers of multifamily housing; and pay a $25,000 civil penalty. The defendants include the developers of the complexes - Cedar Property Management Co., Richard Naccarato, and affiliated companies - and the architect who designed the complexes, Glen A. Cloninger and Associates.
Through the Presidentís New Freedom Initiative, the Civil Rights Division is committed to providing greater access for Americans with disabilities. Since January 20, 2001, the Division has filed 167 lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act, including 34 based on the Actís design and construction provisions.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status (having children under age 18). Persons who believe they may have been harmed by the lack of accessible housing at one of the apartment complexes involved in this matter should contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743. Persons who believe they have been victims of unlawful housing discrimination elsewhere should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743 or 202-514-4713. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov and www.usdoj.gov/crt/crt-home.html.