WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced a settlement that, pending court approval, will resolve allegations that those involved in the design and construction of the Crossings at Summerland Apartments, a 126-unit complex in Woodbridge, Va., discriminated on the basis of disability in the design and construction of the project.
The complaint, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in conjunction with a consent decree, alleges that the defendants violated the federal Fair Housing Act. Specifically, it cites a failure to design and construct the Crossings at Summerland Apartments so that the public use and common use portions of covered multi-family dwellings are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities and so that all of the ground floor units contain features of accessible design.
"Accessible housing is a basic necessity for people with disabilities," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "These types of design and construction cases reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to enforcing fair housing laws on behalf of persons with disabilities."
Under the settlement, the defendants will pay all costs related to making the apartment complex accessible to persons with disabilities and establish a $30,000 fund to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing. The defendants will also pay a $20,000 civil penalty to vindicate the public interest and undergo training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
The defendants are: Summerland Heights III LP; Summerland Heights III GP LLC; Cederquist, Rodriguez, Ripley PC; Bowman Consulting Group Ltd.; and the Marlyn Development Corporation.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 281 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 130 of which have alleged discrimination based on disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt .
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.