December 10, 2019

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HUD Brings Charges Against Housing Design And Construction Companies

HUD Brings Charges Against Three Housing Design And Construction Companies

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced charges against companies in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.

We report about Fair Housing cases in this space to remind house hunters of their Fair Housing Act rights, but it’s not as common to report on a case that spans multiple companies and states the way this case does.

HUD’s charge involves accusations of housing discrimination associated with the design and construction “of a 40-unit North 8 Condominium development in Brooklyn, New York, in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act”.

Those named in the HUD Fair Housing Act charges include Toll Brothers, Inc.; Toll Land XIII Limited Partner; Lendlease (US) Construction LMB, Inc; Greenberg Farrow Architecture, Inc.; and 51 North 8th Street LP.

Why did HUD bring charges in this particular case? The official site reminds us that Fair Housing Act law, “requires that multifamily housing built after March 1991 contain accessible features for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common areas, bathrooms and kitchens, as well as wider doors and environmental controls that can be reached by residents who use wheelchairs.”

Specifically, HUD learned that the housing in question “failed to meet the design and construction requirements mandated by the Fair Housing Act”. According to specifications in the HUD charge, the housing in question, “lacks accessible routes and entrances into and through the common areas and units accessible kitchens and accessible bathrooms”.

Failure to provide such accessible features in the design and construction of multifamily housing is described on the HUD official site as a violation of Fair Housing laws.

“When developers and builders fail to construct housing that complies with the Fair Housing Act, they not only violate the law, they make it more difficult for persons with disabilities to obtain the accessible housing they need,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who was quoted in a HUD press release about the case.

She adds, “Today’s action reflects HUD’s ongoing commitment to taking action when housing providers fall short of meeting their legal obligations.”

These charges are heard by an administrative law judge unless “any party” in the case chooses to have it heard in federal court. If it is found in court that the charges are warranted, damages may be ordered paid to those affected by the inaccessible housing.

The judge may also order “injunctive relief and other equitable relief, including retrofitting of the property, as well as payment of attorney fees” according to the press release, and civil penalties may also be awarded.

If you have experienced discrimination at any stage of the housing process (buying or renting), file a complaint with the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

Joe Wallace - Staff Writer

By Joe Wallace

September 17, 2019

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association. He was Managing editor for www.valoans.com for (8) years and is currently the Associate Editor for FHANewsblog.com.

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