☷HUD CHARGES DEVELOPERS OF ST LOUIS APARTMENT COMPLEX WITH DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION FOR FAILURE TO DESIGN AND CONSTRUCT ACCESSIBLE DWELLINGS
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( By Press Release office)
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WASHINGTON - The U . S . Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ) announced today that it is charging LJLD , LLC , d/b/a Debrecht Properties or Debrecht Property ( LJLD ) , and Westminster Properties , LLC ( Westminster ) , the developers and original owners of the Bridgewater Residences , an 84 - unit apartment complex in St . Louis , Missouri , with failure to design and construct the complex’s covered dwellings and public and common use areas so that they are accessible to people with disabilities , in violation of the Fair Housing Act . HUD’s charge also names the current owner , Bridgewater Apartments V , LLC , as a necessary party to permit and facilitate the property’s retrofitting for accessibility . Read the charge here . The Fair Housing Act requires multifamily housing built after March 1991 to have seven basic accessibility features for persons with disabilities , including persons using wheelchairs . These features include accessible building entrances on accessible routes , accessible public and common use areas , usable doors , accessible routes into and through covered dwellings , accessible environmental controls , reinforced walls in bathrooms to allow installation of grab bars , and usable kitchens and bathrooms . Failure to include these features is unlawful and makes housing difficult or impossible to use by people with disabilities . “When developers fail to include accessibility features in housing , they deny people with disabilities equal housing opportunities , ” said Demetria L . McCain , HUD’s Principal Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity . “Such a denial not only harms an entire class of people , it is illegal . ”“There is no excuse , three decades after the Fair Housing Act required newly constructed multifamily housing to contain basic accessibility features , for builders and designers not to include them , ” said Damon Smith , HUD’s General Counsel . “The Department will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to ensure builders and designers meet their accessibility obligations . ”The case came to HUD’s attention when Metropolitan St . Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council ( EHOC ) , a partner in HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program , filed a complaint with HUD after conducting testing at Bridgewater Residences shortly after the complex was completed in 2016 . This testing indicated that the apartment complex failed to meet the Act’s design and construction requirements . HUD then conducted two inspections of its own . HUD’s Charge of Discrimination alleges that LJLD and Westminster failed to design and construct the 28 ground - floor apartments at Bridgewater Residences , as well as its public and common use areas , in accordance with the Act’s requirements . According to the Charge , the inaccessible features at the complex include doors too narrow to allow passage by a person using a wheelchair , routes with steep slopes and inaccessible curbs , bathrooms and kitchens that lack sufficient space for a wheelchair , inaccessible public and common use areas , and building entrances that can only be accessed via stairs . A United States Administrative Law Judge will hear HUD’s charge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court . If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred , he or she may award damages to the complainant for its loss as a result of the discrimination . The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief , to deter further discrimination , as well as payment of attorney fees . In addition , the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest . If the case is heard in federal court , the judge may also award punitive damages to the complainant . People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at ( 800 ) 6699777 ( voice ) 800 - 927 - 9275 ( TTY ) or the Department of Justice at ( 800 ) 896 - 7743 or 202 - 514 - 4713 . Additional information is available at www . hud . gov/fairhousing and www . justice . gov .
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