The Justice Department announced today that Maryland-based developer Stavrou Associates Inc. and related entities have agreed to pay $185,000 to settle claims that they violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to build 11 multifamily housing complexes in Maryland with required accessible features for people with disabilities. As part of the settlement, the defendants also agreed to make extensive retrofits to remove accessibility barriers at the complexes.
The government’s lawsuit, filed today, raises similar allegations against a second Maryland-based developer, Humphrey Stavrou Associates Inc., and related entities, which were involved in building six other multifamily housing complexes in Maryland. The lawsuit involving those properties is unaffected by today’s settlement.
“The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that multifamily housing properties are accessible to people with disabilities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When the retrofits required by our settlement are completed, people with disabilities will have equal access to more than 1,000 residential units in Maryland.”
“The requirement that housing complexes be built with accessible features for people with disabilities is not new,” said U.S Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland. “Developers must include accessible features and we will hold accountable those who do not.”
The combined 17 properties at issue in the litigation were built with financial assistance from the federal government’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and some of the properties are specifically marketed as housing for seniors.
The settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, requires the defendants to pay all costs related to the retrofits, $175,000 into a settlement fund to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing and civil penalties of $10,000 to the government.
Under the settlement, the defendants will, among other things, replace steeply-sloped walkways and install new walkways to help residents reach units, amenities, mailboxes and entrances to the properties, remove obstacles from pedestrian pathways, widen doorways and modify bathrooms and kitchens so they are accessible for individuals who use wheelchairs. The settlement also requires the defendants to receive training about the FHA and the ADA, to ensure that their future multifamily housing construction complies with these laws and to provide periodic reports to the Justice Department. The 11 complexes are:
- Villages at Belle Hill, Elkton, Maryland
- Burgess Mill Station I, Ellicott City, Maryland
- Burgess Mill Station II, Ellicott City, Maryland
- River Point Apartments, Essex, Maryland
- Hammarlee House Apartments, Glen Burnie, Maryland
- Overland Gardens, Landover, Maryland
- Rainier Manor Phase II Apartments, Mount Rainier, Maryland
- Chapel Springs Senior Apartments, Perry Hall, Maryland
- Hampshire Village, Silver Spring, Maryland
- Windsor Crossing Family Apartments, Suitland, Maryland
- Windsor Crossing Senior Apartments, Suitland, Maryland
The six complexes built by Humphrey Stavrou Associates Inc. that are the subject of the continuing lawsuit are:
- Pin Oak Village, Bowie, Maryland
- Woodland Creek Apartments (formerly “Henson Creek Manor I and II Apartments”), Fort Washington, Maryland
- Woodside Village Apartments, Fort Washington, Maryland
- Acclaim at Lake Largo (formerly “Largo Center Apartments”), Largo, Maryland
- Randolph Village Senior Apartments, Silver Spring, Maryland
- Vistas at Lake Largo, Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Individuals who believe they or someone they know may have had difficulties because of the inaccessible conditions at any of these properties should send an email to the Justice Department at [email protected] or leave a message at 1-833-591-0291, selecting option 1 for English, selecting option 4 for housing accessibility for persons with disabilities, and selecting option 4 for Stavrou Associates Inc.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the FHA, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex and familial status. This law requires that multifamily housing buildings with four or more units constructed after March 13, 1991, have basic accessible features. Enacted in 1990, the ADA requires that places of public accommodation, such as rental offices at multifamily housing complexes constructed after Jan. 26, 1993, be accessible to persons with disabilities.
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals may report disability discrimination or other forms of housing discrimination by calling the Justice Department at 1-833-591-0291, or submitting a report online at www.civilrights.justice.gov. Individuals also may report discrimination by contacting the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777, or by filing a complaint online.