Justice Department Reaches Fair Housing Settlementwith Design Professionals in Disability Lawsuit
The Justice Department today announced a settlement with the architects and civil engineers involved in the design and construction of multifamily housing complexes located in Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. The department’s lawsuit alleges that nine multifamily housing complexes with more than 800 units covered by the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements were designed and built without required accessible features. No settlement has been reached with the developer, builder or former owners of these properties, who are alleged to have violated not only the Fair Housing Act, but also the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the settlement, which was approved today by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi yesterday evening, nine architects and civil engineers will pay a total of $865,000 to make the complexes for which they were responsible accessible to persons with disabilities. They will also pay $60,000 to compensate aggrieved persons harmed by the inaccessible housing alleged in the government’s lawsuit. The settlement requires these defendants to undergo training on the Fair Housing Act and to provide periodic reports to the government.
“Persons with disabilities are entitled to equal access to housing under the Fair Housing Act,” said Eric Halperin, Senior Counsel and Special Counsel for Fair Lending in the Civil Rights Division. “This settlement makes clear that the department takes seriously the accessibility requirements for multifamily housing.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with the Civil Rights Division to help ensure that those who design and construct housing units make them accessible to persons with disabilities in compliance with the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Gregory K. Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.
The architects and civil engineers involved in this settlement are Stephen G. Hill, Pickering Firm Inc. a/k/a Pickering Inc.; Larry Singleton d/b/a Singleton Hollomon Architects, H D Lang And Associates Inc.; Richard A. Barron, Architect, Shows, Dearman & Waits Inc.; Canizaro Cawthon Davis f/k/a Canizaro Trigiani Architects; Evans-Graves Engineers Inc. and J.V. Burkes & Associates Inc.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires, among other things, that public accommodations comply with specific requirements related to architectural standards to ensure accessible public and common use areas. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj. gov/crt . Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com , or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.