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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Justice Department Sues Large Multi-Family Housing Developer Alleging Disability-Based Housing Discrimination

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against JPI Construction L.P. (JPI) and six JPI-affiliated companies in U.S. District Court in Dallas for failing to provide accessible features required by the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act at multi-family housing developments in Texas and other states.

Since 1991, when the Fair Housing Act first required most new multi-family housing to contain accessible features, JPI and its affiliates have built more than 200 apartment, condominium and other housing complexes in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

"Persons with physical disabilities should have the same housing choices as other persons," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We will continue to pursue vigorously those who still have not gotten the message that failing to design and construct multi-family housing with basic features of accessibility violates the law."

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. According to the complaint, the defendants failed to design and construct accessible dwelling units and public and common use areas at Jefferson Center Apartments in Austin, Texas; Jefferson at Mission Gate Apartments in Plano, Texas; and additional multi-family housing complexes in other states. According to the complaint, certain complexes designed and constructed by the defendants have inaccessible steps and curbs leading to units, steeply sloped routes leading to units, and no accessible routes to site amenities, including inaccessible trash facilities, barbeque grills and cookout tables. In addition, certain housing units have narrow doors and hallways; kitchens that lack accessible clear floor space at the sinks, ranges and refrigerators; bathrooms that lack accessible clear floor space at the toilets and tubs; and thermostats that are mounted too high to be accessible to a person using a wheelchair.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to modify the complexes to bring them into compliance with federal laws and prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants. The lawsuit also seeks monetary damages to compensate victims and a civil penalty to be paid to the government.

Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt. Additional information about the Fair Housing Act is also available at www.HUD.gov. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.

The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.

09-187
Civil Rights Division
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