June 8, 2005
FAIR HOUSING SETTLEMENT OPENS DOORS FOR DISABLED PERSONS IN SAN DIEGO
Developer to pay $1.2 million
WASHINGTON - The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that a landmark, $1.2 million disability settlement was reached with Lambert Development LLC, Roel Construction Co., Inc., and Carrier Johnson, the developers and general contractors of a high-rise condominium complex in San Diego, Calif. The settlement resolves a complaint alleging violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act.
"The Fair Housing Act requires that multi-family housing, first occupied after March 13, 1991, be designed and constructed, so that persons with disabilities can access and use the premises," said Floyd May, General Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Through settlement agreements, such as this one, HUD is ensuring that housing is available on equal terms to all Americans."
Lambert Development LLC, Roel Construction Co., Inc., and Carrier Johnson
voluntarily cooperated in settling the discrimination complaint against the
221-unit Renaissance Condominium Development in San Diego.
Michael Felchlin, a condominium owner, filed the complaint alleging he had to request and pay for accessibility modifications that, by law, should have been included in the complex when it was constructed in 2003. Among the modifications Felchlin made were modifications to the master bathroom and its threshold, the widening the master bathroom entryway, and the installation of a roll-in shower, instead of the tub and shower that appear in the original plans. Felchlin paid $15,000 for the accessible modifications in his master bathroom.
HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity investigated the complaint and was able to successfully conciliate the case. Lambert Development LLC, Roel Construction Co., Inc., and Carrier Johnson agreed to make approximately $200,000 in common-area retrofit improvements, and contribute $1.2 million dollars up-front, for the establishment of a structured retrofit-trust fund. The settlement will benefit and enable aggrieved residents and future residents with disabilities to make needed accessibility improvements.
The agreed-upon retrofits include the modification of building entrances, the creation of more accessible mail receptacles in the mailroom, the modification of doors in the corridors, exercise room, and public bathrooms, and making the common-area kitchen and bathrooms accessible. Other dwelling unit retrofits may involve widening 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.
"We are pleased that Lambert Development LLC, Roel Construction Co., Inc., and Carrier Johnson recognized their responsibility and cooperated in resolving this matter in HUD's administrative case process without burdening the government and public with potential litigation expenses," said May. "This is a win for all involved."
Individuals who believe they may have been victims of housing discrimination may call the Department's Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office at 800-669-9777. Additional information is available on HUD's website.