U.S. Attorney Reaches Settlement With Westchester Developer To Increase Accessibility For People With Disabilities At Two Apartment Complexes In Rockland County
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has settled a federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) lawsuit against GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT COMPANIES (“GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT”), which was filed in September 2016. Under the settlement, GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT has agreed to make retrofits to two apartment complexes in Haverstraw, New York, the Riverside and the Parkside, which together contain more than 200 rental units, in order to make them more accessible to individuals with disabilities. GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT also has committed to establish procedures to ensure that its future residential development projects will comply with the accessibility requirements of the FHA. Additionally, the settlement requires GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT to provide up to $125,000 to compensate aggrieved persons and to pay a civil penalty of $50,000. The resolution of this lawsuit was approved on April 12, 2018, by U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román. Previously, on September 28, 2016, the United States obtained in this lawsuit a court-ordered preliminary injunction on consent that requires GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT to ensure accessibility at four Westchester rental complexes currently under development – Saw Mill Lofts in Hastings-on-Hudson, Harbor Square Crossings in Ossining, and River Tides and 1177 Warburton Avenue in Yonkers.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “The Fair Housing Act’s accessibility provisions protect people with disabilities wherever they live. Today’s settlement, just one day after the 50th anniversary of the FHA, is part of the Office’s ongoing effort to fulfill the Act’s promise of accessibility throughout the Southern District of New York. All people, with or without physical limitations, should be able to live with dignity in accessible accommodations.”
The FHA’s accessible design and construction provisions require new multifamily housing complexes constructed after January 1993 to have basic features accessible to persons with disabilities. According to the allegations in the complaint and the factual admissions in the settlement stipulation, the Riverside and Parkside apartment complexes, which GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT designed and constructed, have a number of inaccessible features, including excessively high thresholds within individual units, insufficient clear floor spaces in bathrooms and kitchens, and doors in both individual units and common areas that are not wide enough to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
Pursuant to the settlement, GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT agrees to make retrofits to both public and common use areas and individual units to ensure that Riverside and Parkside are accessible. The settlement also requires GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT to establish procedures to ensure FHA compliance at its future development projects, including to retain an FHA compliance consultant to assess the design documents and conduct site visits to identify non-compliant conditions. In addition, GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT agrees to institute policies and training to ensure that its employees and agents will comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements.
The settlement requires GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT to provide up to $125,000 to compensate aggrieved persons. Aggrieved persons may be entitled to monetary compensation from the fund created through today’s settlement. Aggrieved individuals may include those who:
- Were discouraged from living at Riverside or Parkside because of the lack of accessible features;
- Have been hurt in any way by the lack of accessible features at Riverside or Parkside;
- Paid to have an apartment at Riverside or Parkside made more accessible to persons with disabilities; or
- Otherwise were discriminated against on the basis of disability at Riverside or Parkside as a result of the inaccessible design and construction of the properties.
Any individual who may be entitled to compensation can file a claim by contacting the Civil Rights Complaint Line at (212) 637-0840, using the Civil Rights Complaint Form available on the United States Attorney’s Office’s website http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/
civilrights.html, or by sending a written claim to:
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
86 Chambers Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10007
Attention: Chief, Civil Rights Unit
Finally, the GINSBURG DEVELOPMENT also agrees to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.
Since 2010, the Office has filed nearly 30 lawsuits to enforce the FHA to combat racial, gender, and disability discrimination in housing, including in the areas of design and construction, sexual harassment, and fair lending.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Li Yu, Natasha W. Teleanu, Jacob Lillywhite, and Lauren Lively are in charge of the case.