The Justice Department announced today that developer Douglas Pauley and entities affiliated with him have agreed to pay $110,000 and make all retrofits required to remove accessibility barriers at 30 apartment complexes, involving more than 750 units, in West Virginia that were developed through the federal government’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. The parties’ agreement will settle the United States’ claims that defendants violated the Fair Housing Act by building the complexes with a variety of features that made them inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Under the terms of the parties’ agreement, Pauley, as general partner of 30 limited liability partnerships, must take extensive actions to make the complexes accessible to persons with disabilities. These corrective actions include replacing cabinets in bathrooms and kitchens to provide sufficient room for wheelchair users, reducing door threshold heights, replacing excessively sloped portions of sidewalks and installing properly sloped curb ramps that allow persons with disabilities access to sidewalks from the parking areas. In addition, the defendants will pay $100,000 to establish a settlement fund for the purpose of compensating disabled individuals impacted by the accessibility violations and $10,000 as a civil penalty.
“The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of persons with disabilities to have equal opportunities to enjoy the housing of their choice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division . “The Justice Department is strongly committed to the enforcement of the fair housing laws. It is especially important that multi-family properties developed using federal programs are designed to provide accessible and affordable housing to those who need it the most.”
“When developers and building professionals fail to design and construct homes with the required accessibility features, we will vigorously enforce the law," said U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin for the Southern District of West Virginia.
Individuals who are entitled to share in the settlement fund will be identified through a process established in the settlement. Notices of the settlement and a list of subject properties will be published in the Charleston Gazette. Persons who believe they were subjected to unlawful discrimination at one of those properties either when they lived there or considered living there should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743 mailbox # 9993 or e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt . Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com or contact The Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.