FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES DESIGNERS AND BUILDERS OF
APARTMENT COMPLEX IN HENDERSON, NEVADA
FOR VIOLATIONS OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against the owner, developer, architect, and site engineer of Green Valley Country Club Apartments in Henderson, Nevada for failing to design and construct a complex that is accessible to persons with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada, names as defendants Wilmark Development Co., Mark Schmidt Construction, WLW of Nevada, Inc., and De Luna, Inc., all of whom were responsible for the design and construction of the complex. Green Valley Country Club Limited Partnership, the current owner of the complex, is being sued as a party necessary for relief.
The lawsuit alleges that the Green Valley Country Club Apartments are not accessible to persons with disabilities because, among other things, there is no accessible route into the dwellings, the doors in the units are too narrow to allow access by persons using wheelchairs, bathroom walls lack reinforcements needed for the safe installation of grab bars, and the common and public use areas are not accessible.
Under the Fair Housing Act, apartment complexes and condominiums with four or more units that are built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, must include accessible common and public use areas such as parking, walkways, rental or sales offices, recreational areas, and clubhouses. In addition, the ground-floor units in non-elevator buildings must also include accessible routes into and through the dwelling, doors wide enough to accommodate persons who use wheelchairs, outlets and environmental controls at accessible heights, bathroom walls that have reinforcements for the installation of grab bars, and bathrooms and kitchens that are large enough for people who use wheelchairs to maneuver within and use them. In buildings with elevators, all of the units must contain these features.
This case began when the Nevada Fair Housing Council, Inc., a fair housing rights organization, filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD referred the complaints to the Justice Department, which conducted an investigation and determined that the property did not comply with the Fair Housing Act.
"Ensuring greater access for people with disabilities is a high priority with this Administration," said Floyd O. May, Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD's office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "The filing sends a clear message that we will vigorously enforce the law to ensure fair housing for people with disabilities."
Persons with disabilities who experienced difficulties living at or visiting the Green Valley Country Club Apartments because of inaccessible features should contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743.
Persons with disabilities who believe that their apartment or condominium complexes were not designed or constructed in accordance with the Fair Housing Act, or who believe that they have been otherwise discriminated against on the basis of disability, may contact the Department of Housing of Urban Development (HUD) at 1-800-669-9777.
Additional information about the accessibility requirements of the Act is available on HUD's website at www.hud.gov/fhe/fheacss.html.