WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a settlement of a lawsuit alleging that those involved in the design and construction of two multifamily housing complexes in Davenport, Iowa, violated the Fair Housing Act. The complexes at issue are Kimberly Ridge Manor and Jersey Ridge Manor.
The case began when the Davenport Civil Rights Commission filed fair housing complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After investigating, HUD referred the matter to the Justice Department, which filed the lawsuit in September 2009. Under the settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, the defendants will pay all costs related to making the complexes accessible to persons with disabilities and pay up to $40,000 to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing. The settlement also requires all the defendants to undergo training on the requirements on the Fair Housing Act and to provide periodic reports to the government.
"Accessible housing is not just a civil right for individuals with disabilities, it is a basic necessity," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This settlement ensures that persons with physical disabilities have an equal opportunity to live in and visit these complexes."
"Designing accessible housing is a simple step that can have a big impact on the lives of persons with disabilities," said Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. "We are committed to the principle that all Americans, including those with disabilities, deserve the opportunity to enjoy fair housing in their community."
"Ensuring that homes are designed and built to provide access for people with disabilities is the law. Today’s settlement demonstrates what can be done when government and private actors work together to enforce the law and produce results," stated John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity.
The defendants responsible for payments and retrofits are Portzen Construction Inc., GNZ Properties Inc. and Sodarock Properties LLC. In addition, defendants Design Center Associates Inc. and Jerry L. Anderson are responsible for funding the retrofits. The retrofits include creating accessible routes to building entrances, providing accessible parking for residents and guests, widening inaccessible narrow doorways, and reconfiguring 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 9992.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Such persons may also contact HUD 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.