WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that it had obtained approval from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to distribute $700,000 in monetary damages to 37 persons with disabilities pursuant to the consent decree entered in United States v. Edward Rose and Sons, et al., a case that was resolved by a consent decree entered in the Eastern District of Michigan in September 2005.
The consent decree resolved two lawsuits filed by the United States in 2001 and 2002 alleging that Michigan apartment owner Edward Rose and Sons, along with their architects and affiliated companies, had failed to design and construct 49 apartment complexes in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Nebraska in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among other things, the decree required the Rose companies to set aside $950,000 to compensate persons who had been harmed by the lack of accessible features at the complexes and to take steps to notify tenants and other persons of their right to apply for compensation.
The United States identified 37 persons who should be compensated, and today the Court approved the distribution of $700,000 to those persons. Under the terms of the decree, the remaining $250,000 in the settlement fund will go toward increasing housing opportunities for disabled persons in communities where Edward Rose and Sons operates, in a manner to be determined later by the Court.
“This is an important settlement for persons who were denied the right to live in accessible housing,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that individuals are not prevented from occupying the home of their choice because of illegal accessibility barriers or other violations of federal law.”
“Despite the Fair Housing Act’s enactment by Congress so many years ago, some landlords still fail to make their properties accessible to persons with disabilities. This case demonstrates our office’s commitment to aggressively enforcing federal fair housing laws and our continuing – and successful – efforts to fight discrimination based on race, color and national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability,” said Stephen J. Murphy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “As a result of this case, more than 5,000 apartment units are being made accessible to citizens with disabilities. We are also pleased to be able to compensate those individuals who have been victims of housing discrimination in this case.”
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. In February 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced Operation Home Sweet Home, a concentrated initiative to expose and eliminate housing discrimination in America. More information about Operation Home Sweet Home is available at the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/fairhousing. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.
Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has filed 241 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 114 of which have alleged discrimination based on disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.