Cutting Corners in the Construction of New Housing Does Not Pay

As Universal Design philosophy, including such approaches as Visitibality, meet up with proper enforcement of the US Fair Housing Act and the well-know propensity of the Baby Boomer generation not to suffer fools gladly, the pressure on those who discriminate in private housing and public lodging will mount and result in more decisions such as the following in Nevada.

The alternative to legal action is for developers to take a clear look at market demands and the potential for profit and realize that incorporating Universal Design is in their business interest - quite aside from legal mandates - before their competitors steal their market share by doing so first:


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with three firms in Reno, Nevada, resolving a lawsuit that alleged disability related housing discrimination. The suit is the Department's first enforcement action in Reno concerning the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act.

"Cutting corners in the construction of new housing does not pay," said
Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil
Rights Division. "The design and construction requirements of the Fair
Housing Act are clear and readily achievable in new construction. The
Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those who have a
legal obligation to provide accessible housing
."



Wednesday, July 13, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
VOICE: (202) 514-2008
TTY: (202) 514-1888
WWW.USDOJ.GOV


JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
AGAINST NEVADA DEVELOPERS, ARCHITECTS, AND ENGINEERS


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced a settlement
agreement with three firms in Reno, Nevada, resolving a lawsuit that
alleged disability related housing discrimination. The suit is the
Department's first enforcement action in Reno concerning the
accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act.

"Cutting corners in the construction of new housing does not pay," said
Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil
Rights Division. "The design and construction requirements of the Fair
Housing Act are clear and readily achievable in new construction. The
Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those who have a
legal obligation to provide accessible housing."

According to the government's complaint, ERGS, Inc.; civil engineering
firm CFA, Inc.; and an individual architect violated the Fair Housing Act
by designing and constructing housing complexes in a manner that left
them inaccessible to people with disabilities. The properties are Silver
Lake Apartments and Sierra Sage Apartments on the outskirts of Reno. The
Reno-based Silver State Fair Housing Council (SSFHC) brought suit first,
after filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, with which the United States' lawsuit was consolidated.
The agreement requires accessibility improvements to the apartment units
and the complexes' common areas at an estimated cost of $1.67 million.
The agreement also provides $27,500 in damages for the SSFHC and $250,000
to reimburse its attorney's fees and litigation expenses; establishes a
$150,000 fund to compensate individuals injured by the inaccessible
housing; and requires the payment of a $30,000 civil penalty.

"Today's action is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the
United States joins forces with a local housing group that shares the
same passion for equal housing access. The Silver State Fair Housing
Council has been advocating and educating for fair housing rights in
northern Nevada since 1989. We are pleased to have partnered with them
in this case to create more housing options for persons with disabilities
to live where they want," said Daniel G. Bogden, U.S. Attorney for the
District of Nevada.

Persons with disabilities who believe they may be aggrieved by the
accessibility violations at Silver Lake or Sierra Sage should call
1-800-896-7743 to determine how they can file a claim for monetary
damages.

A copy of the consent decree can be obtained on the Justice Department's
website at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing/caselist.htm. Information on
the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act may be found on
the website of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at
http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/disabilities/accessibilityR.cfm. Since
January 21, 2001, the Civil Rights Division has filed 161 lawsuits
alleging discrimination in housing, including 73 based on disability
discrimination and 34 based specifically on the Fair Housing Act's design
and construction provisions that formed the basis of this lawsuit.

Olegario "Ollie" D. Cantos VII, Esq.
Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 5529Washington, DC 20530
Voice: (202) 616-7920
TDD: (202) 514-0617
Fax: (202) 307-2839
Email: Ollie.Cantos@usdoj.gov

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