FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES LAWSUIT ALLEGING DISABILITY-BASED HOUSING DISCRIMINATION IN CARTERET, NEW JERSEY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the owner/developer and architect of Meridian Square Apartments in Carteret, New Jersey, settling a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act.
The suit, filed April 30, alleged that Carteret Terrace LLC, Feinberg and Associates PC, and others violated civil rights laws by designing and constructing the apartment complex without required features that allow persons with disabilities to use them.
“Housing is a basic necessity,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “The inability to find accessible housing bars individuals with disabilities from participating more broadly in community life. These violations of the law must end."
Under the agreement, which was approved yesterday by the federal court, Carteret Terrace will make the apartment complex accessible to people using wheelchairs. Feinberg & Associates will pay $5000 in compensation and Carteret Terrace will establish a $45,000 fund to compensate those who may have been impacted by the inaccessible housing.
The case was referred to the Justice Department by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The Fair Housing Act opens doors of opportunity to everyone,” said Carolyn Peoples, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “In requiring that new apartment buildings be accessible, the Act says we can’t leave people with disabilities at the threshold.”
Since January 1, 2001, the Civil Rights Division has filed 131 lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act, including 32 enforcing the Act's design and construct provisions that formed the basis of this lawsuit.
Persons who believe that they have suffered from housing discrimination at Meridian Square should contact the Civil Rights Division at (800) 896-7743, option #98. Persons who believe that they have suffered housing discrimination elsewhere should contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at (800) 669-9777.