Justice Department Announces Fair Housing Settlement with Oregon Developer
The Justice Department announced today that Oregon developer David Montagne and others affiliated with him have agreed to pay $80,000 and remove accessibility barriers at Gateway Village, a 275 unit apartment complex in Salem, Oregon, to settle a lawsuit alleging that they had violated the Fair Housing Act by building the complex with steps and other features that made it inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Under the terms of the parties’ agreement, Montagne and the other developers, Montagne Development Company, Gateway II LLC, Dav II Investment Group LLC and William Jones, must take extensive actions to make the complex accessible to persons with disabilities. These corrective actions include removing steps from sidewalks, widening interior doorways, reducing threshold heights, replacing excessively sloped portions of sidewalks, and installing properly sloped curb ramps to allow persons with disabilities to access the sidewalks from the parking areas. In addition, these defendants will pay $48,000 to the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, whose investigation revealed the violations and which intervened in the United States’ lawsuit, and $32,000 to establish a settlement fund for the purpose of compensating disabled individuals impacted by the accessibility violations. This settlement does not resolve the entire lawsuit. The case continues against the defendant that provided design and engineering services for Gateway Village, Multi/Tech Engineering.
“The Fair Housing Act ensures that persons with disabilities do not face unnecessary barriers to access to housing of their choice and are able to make full use of that housing,” said Eric Halperin, Senior Counsel and Special Counsel for Fair Lending in the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is strongly committed to the enforcement of the fair housing laws that protect the rights of persons with disabilities to have equal opportunities to enjoy the housing of their choice.”
“Accessible housing is a fundamental protection afforded by the Fair Housing Act,” stated U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, S. Amanda Marshall. “I am committed to working with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and our federal, state, and local partners to ensure Oregonians have accessible housing choices in accordance with federal law.”
The lawsuit, filed in September 2011, arose as a result of a complaint filed by the Fair Housing Council of Oregon with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After HUD investigated the complaint, it issued a charge of discrimination and referred the matter to the Justice Department.
“Having accessible features in an apartment complex is not just a legal requirement. These features are essential for people with disabilities to live their lives fully and independently,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD and the Justice Department are committed to ensuring that housing developers meet the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.”
Individuals who are entitled to share in the settlement fund will be identified through a process established in the settlement. Persons who believe they were subjected to unlawful discrimination at Gateway Village 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 HUD at 1-800-669-9777.