FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES LAWSUIT ALLEGING
DISABILITY-BASED HOUSING DISCRIMINATION IN WILTON, NEW YORK
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the owners, developers, architects and engineers of the McGregor Village Apartments in Wilton, New York alleging discrimination against persons with disabilities.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Syracuse, charges that Bruce Tanski Construction and Development Co.; Bruce Tanski; Mountain Ledge L.P.; Mountain Ledge L.L.C.; Michael Dennis; Howard Jacobson; Paul F. Tommell; Yates Scott Lansing; and Keystone Associates L.L.C. violated the Fair Housing Act by designing and constructing McGregor Village without required features that permit access by persons with disabilities. Specifically, according to the complaint, the violations include doors that are too narrow for wheelchairs, steps that are barriers to access, electrical outlets and thermostats that are placed too high on walls for persons in wheelchairs to reach them, and kitchens and bathrooms that do not have enough space to allow persons in wheelchairs to use them.
“When developers fail to take the reasonable and affordable steps the law requires to ensure that persons with disabilities may access and use their residences, they effectively limit the housing options of a large part of our society,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “The Justice Department remains committed to defending the rights of Americans with disabilities.”
“With millions of Americans living with some type of physical disability, it is imperative that we ensure that they have access to the kind of housing that meets their needs, free from discrimination,” said Glenn T. Suddaby, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York.
“For 15 years, federal law has required that builders, architects, and others design and construct housing that meets the needs of people with disabilities,” said Carolyn Peoples, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “HUD and the Department of Justice take seriously the responsibility to ensure compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.”
The case was referred to the Justice Department by HUD. It is being handled by attorneys from the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status (having children under 18 years old), national origin and disability. Since January 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 127 Fair Housing Act cases, including 55 based on disability.