WASHINGTON – A developer of a condominium complex in Post Falls, Idaho, has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that they violated the Fair Housing Act by developing the complex with features that made it inaccessible to persons with disabilities, announced the Department of Justice. Under the settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, Riverwalk Condominiums LLC will pay $18,500 and take other steps to retrofit the complex in order to make it accessible.
The lawsuit, filed in August 2009, alleged that Riverwalk designed and constructed the condominiums on Greensferry Road in Post Falls, Idaho, with features that made the complex inaccessible to persons with disabilities. If approved by the court, the settlement will require the defendant to:
· Retrofit the complex to make it more accessible;
· Ensure that future or ongoing construction meets the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act;
· Pay a total of $13,500 to an individual with a disability who inquired about housing at Riverwalk and to the Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC), a non-profit fair housing organization that assisted the individual and helped document accessibility barriers at the complex: and
· Pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the United States.
“Since 1991, the Fair Housing Act has required that new multi-family housing meet basic accessibility requirements, and there is no excuse for noncompliance at new developments,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Enforcement actions like this one illustrate the department’s commitment to ensuring accessible housing is available for persons with disabilities.”
“Builders and designers of multi-family housing have an obligation to ensure that their housing is accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Wendy J. Olson, U.S Attorney for the District of Idaho. “We commend the work of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and IFHC for their commitment to the fundamental principles of fair housing for all.”
“While most get it right, HUD and the Justice Department will continue to work together to ensure that all architects, builders and developers comply with their legal responsibility to build housing that is accessible,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
The complex’s condominium association, which is also a party to the proposed settlement, has agreed to allow access to the complex so that the retrofits can be completed.
The lawsuit arose from complaints filed with HUD by an individual seeking housing. After investigating the complaints, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and referred the case to the Justice Department.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt . Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.