WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a settlement of its lawsuit alleging that those involved in the design and construction of 11 multifamily housing complexes discriminated on the basis of disability. The complexes are located in four states and contain more than 800 units covered by the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility provisions.
Under the settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, 11 defendants will pay all costs related to making the complexes for which they were responsible accessible to persons with disabilities and pay up to $117,000 to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing. The settlement requires all the defendants to undergo training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and provide periodic reports to the government.
"The Fair Housing Act requires equal access to housing for persons with disabilities," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This comprehensive settlement ensures that these multifamily housing complexes will be retrofitted to comply with the Fair Housing Act, thus allowing persons with physical disabilities an equal opportunity to live in and visit these complexes."
The complaint was originally filed in Memphis, after the United States Attorney received a copy of a survey conducted by the Memphis Center for Independent Living of three of the Memphis properties indicating violations of the Fair Housing Act. In jointly announcing the filing of the Consent Order U.S. Attorney Lawrence J. Laurenzi said, "This Consent Order is an example of our office’s commitment to enforcing the civil rights of all people and in particular highlights the high degree of cooperation between our office and the Civil Rights Division in enforcing the rights of individuals with disabilities."
The defendants responsible for the payments and retrofits are Steve Bryan, Bryan Construction Company, Patton & Taylor Construction Co., Taylor Gardner Architects, Looney-Ricks-Kiss Architects, Richard A. Barron, The Reaves Firm, Smith Engineering Firm, David W. Milem, Belz/South Bluffs and HT Devco. Two defendants, Steve Bryan and Bryan Construction Co., will also pay a civil penalty of $12,000 to vindicate the public interest. The defendants will retrofit the following complexes in Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas:
The retrofitting includes modifying walkways to eliminate steps, excess slopes and level changes, providing accessible curb ramps, and providing accessible parking and routes to site amenities, such as clubhouses, pools, mailboxes and trash facilities. The settlement also provides for the replacement of inaccessible knob door hardware, the widening of inaccessible narrow doorways, and the reconfiguration of bathrooms and kitchens to accommodate persons who use wheelchairs.
Persons who believe they may have been harmed by the lack of accessible housing at one of the complexes involved in this matter should contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, and select menu option 996.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743) or email the Justice Department at email@example.com. Such persons may also contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.
Fair housing enforcement is a priority of the Civil Rights Division. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt.