WASHINGTON– The Justice Department today announced a settlement of its lawsuit alleging that the owners and developers involved in the design and construction of 21 multifamily housing complexes in Tennessee discriminated on the basis of disability. The complexes, which were built with the assistance of federal low-income housing tax credits, contain more than 800 units covered by the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility provisions along with areas of public accommodation covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Murphy Development LLC and 22 defendants will pay all costs related to making the complexes for which they were responsible accessible to persons with disabilities, pay up to $350,000 to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing, and pay $75,000 to the United States. The settlement requires all the defendants to be trained about the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and to provide periodic reports to the government that they are following the law.
"Equal access to housing for persons with disabilities is an important right protected by both the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This comprehensive settlement will ensure that equal housing opportunities required by law are provided in these 21 housing complexes. This will give persons with physical disabilities an equal opportunity to live in and visit these complexes, and provide compensation to those who have been harmed by the builders’ failure to provide accessible housing."
"The United States will work aggressively to guarantee that persons with disabilities have the accessible rental housing to which they are entitled," said Ed Yarbrough, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. "The scope of this settlement and the many apartment complexes that it covers will benefit many Tennesseans with disabilities."
The case began when the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, a private, nonprofit advocacy organization whose mission is to eliminate housing discrimination throughout Tennessee, provided the department with information several apartment complexes that were inaccessible to people with disabilities. The department conducted an independent investigation and filed this lawsuit in September 2008.
The defendants responsible for the payments and retrofits are Murphy Development LLC, Westland Development LLC, Meadow Creek LP, Miller Town LP, Swiss Ridge LP, 17th Street LP, Alta Vista LP, Forest View LP, Stonebridge LP, Spring Branch LLC, Delrose Court LP, River View Park LP, Sutherland View Apartments LP, Lyon’s Den LP, Dunhill LLC, Ashton View LLC, West Vista Ridge LLC, Cassell Ridge LP, Cassell View LP, Sutherland Park LP, Azalea Development LLC, The Highlands Apartments LP, and Beason Well LP. The defendants will retrofit the following complexes in Tennessee
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 hardware on doors, 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 2.
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 e-mail 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 www.justice.gov/crt.