HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 04-072
(202) 708-0685

For Release
July 27, 2004


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a Palo Alto-based non-profit fair housing partner today said the owners of the 384-unit Skyway Terrace condominiums in San Jose, CA, have agreed to spend $505,000 to make its apartments and common areas accessible to persons with disabilities. The owners, Shell and Branham Residential Properties and the property's general contractor, ABL Properties, have also agreed to put another $200,000 to escrow for use by any disabled San Jose-area resident who needs to retrofit his or her apartment.

Today's conciliation agreement is the result of an audit conducted by Project Sentinel, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program participant, and subsequent investigation conducted by HUD, into alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act at Skyway Terrace. The Fair Housing Act protects Americans from housing discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or disability. Project Sentinel is one of many private, non-profit organizations funded by HUD through FHIP to investigate alleged violations of the Act.

"It's a great concern when a person in a wheelchair or with any other disability cannot use an apartment that should have been accessible, as required by law," said Carolyn Peoples, HUD's assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. "HUD is committed to enforcing the nation's fair housing laws, and we will act vigorously to keep peoples' rights from being violated."

Project Sentinel Executive Director Ann Marquart said her organization's investigation found such violations as: wheelchair ramps with excessive slopes, excessive slopes immediately in front of exterior doors, no wheelchair-accessible routes to some buildings and automatic doors that open and close too quickly.

Investigators also found door thresholds that are too high; drinking fountains that require excessive force to operate; toilet room grab bars that are too short; insufficient knee space under bathroom sinks for people in wheelchairs; mailboxes that are not accessible for people in wheelchairs; and restrooms and kitchens too small to maneuver in for people in wheelchairs.

According to the provisions of the agreement, the retrofits will include modifying entrances, creating more accessible mail receptacles in the mailroom, modifying doors in the corridors, exercise room, and public bathrooms, and making the common area kitchen and bathrooms accessible. Other retrofits may include the widening of doors, lowering thresholds, making lavatories accessible, creating more clear floor space in bathrooms for wheelchairs and reinforcing walls to enable the installation of grab bars as needed in some toilet and bathtub areas.

The Fair Housing Act requires that HUD attempt to resolve every complaint by conciliation prior to the issuance of a determination on the merits of the allegations. Today's conciliation agreement concludes HUD's investigation of this case, without a formal determination of whether the alleged practices violated the law.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and


People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.

Content Archived: April 22, 2010