The Department of Justice announced that the Housing Authority of Recent Orleans (HANO) and 7 private developers have agreed to pay $250,000 to settle claims that they violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to design and construct eight multifamily residential properties and associated places of public accommodation so that they’re accessible to individuals with disabilities. As a part of the settlement, the defendants also agreed to make extensive retrofits to remove accessibility barriers on the properties.
The settlement, which should be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, requires the defendants to pay all costs related to the retrofits, provide $200,000 fora settlement fund to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing, and pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the federal government.
“Under federal law, individuals with disabilities should have the identical access to housing as other people,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “These eight properties house 1000’s of residents, a lot of whom live with a disability. This settlement will be sure that residents with disabilities may have an equal opportunity to live safely in and revel in their homes.”
“All residents deserve protected, reasonably priced, and accessible housing,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Edwards for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “The successful resolution of this matter helps meet the needs of our vulnerable, disabled, and elderly residents.”
The properties at issue are Bienville Basin, Columbia Parc, Faubourg Lafitte, Fischer Senior Village, Guste III, Harmony Oaks, Marrero Commons and River Garden. Seven of those properties were developed as a part of HANO’s post-Hurricane Katrina redevelopment of its public housing projects.
The accessibility barriers alleged to exist on the properties include, amongst other violations, steps and excessive slopes resulting in unit entry doors or constructing entrances from sidewalks and other public areas; common areas and amenities that will not be usable by individuals with disabilities, corresponding to mailboxes mounted too high for individuals using wheelchairs to succeed in; insufficiently wide openings at interior doors that make them inaccessible for a lot of individuals with mobility impairments; inadequate interior space to maneuver a wheelchair; and inaccessible parking.