FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2001(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES CHICAGO DEVELOPERS FOR
BUILDING COMPLEX NOT ACCESSIBLE TO RESIDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today sued developers of a suburban Chicago condominium for failing to include features in new condominium units that would have made them accessible to persons with disabilities.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, alleges that RSC Development Group, Inc., LP Construction Co., RSC/Hunt Club, LLC, RSC Renaissance Limited Partnership, and Richard Lettvin violated the Fair Housing Act by excluding certain design features at the Hunt Club Condominiums, an 86-unit development in St. Charles, Ill.
The suit alleges that the complex, as originally designed and built, violated the law because the interior doors in one of the two buildings at Hunt Club units were too narrow for use by persons who use wheelchairs; the bathrooms were not readily usable by these individuals and lacked reinforced walls for the installation of grab bars; and common use and public areas in one of the buildings were not readily accessible to and usable by persons who use wheelchairs.
"It's better to build it right from the start than to go back and fix it later," said Bill Lann Lee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The Fair Housing Act's requirements are modest, but their impact is enormous for persons with disabilities seeking housing."
The Act requires that multi-family housing developments of four or more dwelling units built after March 1991 contain certain features to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. Those features include electrical outlets, light switches and thermostats that are within reach of persons who use wheelchairs; and bathrooms and kitchens which allow enough space to maneuver a wheelchair.
The case stems from a series of audits of construction sites conducted by the Justice Department in Chicago area residential developments. The audits were conducted through the Department's testing program in partnership with the John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Clinic and Access Living, a Chicago-based disability rights organization. The investigation involved "testers," some of whom were persons with disabilities, who posed as prospective home buyers and who inspected properties to see if they met accessibility requirements.
Today's is the 23rd case filed as a result of the Department's investigation of Chicago-area builders. Of the other 22 cases, 20 have been resolved and two are pending.
Mr. Lettvin served as the president of RSC Development Group and LP Construction Co., and as the managing member, and general partner, respectively, of RSC/Hunt Club, LLC and RSC Renaissance Limited Partnership.