FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
IDAHO BUILDER AGREES TO MAKE APARTMENT COMPLEX ACCESSIBLE TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AND TO PAY $48,000 TO SETTLE HOUSING DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Department announced today that the builder and civil engineer of Baycrest Village in Caldwell, Idaho has agreed to settle a Justice Department lawsuit by retrofitting an eighteen unit apartment complex to make it accessible to persons with disabilities and by paying up to $48,000 in damages and penalties.
The Justice Department filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Boise against the V.L.V. Company and its principal, Virginia L. Vanderpool, who built Baycrest, T&J Properties, its original owner, and Pinnacle Engineers, who designed Baycrest. The suit alleged that the defendants failed to design and construct the complex with accessible features required by federal law.
The Justice Department investigation revealed that the complex had numerous barriers to accessibility steps including: steps at the front entry door of apartment units; bathrooms and kitchens that lack adequate maneuvering space to be usable by persons with disabilities; bathrooms that lack reinforcements for grab bars; and electrical outlets and thermostats placed at inaccessible heights for persons who use wheelchairs. The new owners of Baycrest Village, Baycrest LLC, who are not a party to the lawsuit, agreed to allow defendants to correct these and other deficiencies.
"Builders, architects and engineers must understand that failing to make apartments and condominiums accessible discriminates against persons with disabilities and violates the law" said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "It is far easier and less costly to build housing right from the start than to go back and fix it later."
This case was brought on behalf of the Intermountain Fair Housing Council of Boise, who filed the original complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD investigated the complaint and referred the matter to the United States after determining that the complex was not accessible to persons with disabilities.
"As we commemorate Fair Housing Month, today's announcement illustrates the Administration's commitment to expanding housing opportunities for people with disabilities," said Kenneth Marcus, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD's office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "We hope today's action will encourage all developers and architects to comply with the law."
Under the agreement, which must still be approved by the federal court, the defendants must:
Any individuals who believe they suffered discrimination as a result of the inaccessibility of Baycrest should contact the Justice Department at (800) 896-7743 or 202-514-4713.
Individuals who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination elsewhere should contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at (800) 669-9777. Additional information is available on the HUD website at www.hud.gov and the Justice Department website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing.