Maryland United States Attorney’s Office Resolves Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Maryland Developer Involving Multifamily Housing Complexes

by MCS Staff
The Government’s Lawsuit Continues Against Other Defendants

Per the Office of the U.S. Attotney, District of Maryland: United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division 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 multi-family 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 multi-family housing complexes in Maryland.  The lawsuit involving those properties is unaffected by today’s settlement.

“The requirement that housing complexes be built with accessible features for people with disabilities is not new,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron.  “Developers must include accessible features and we will hold accountable those who do not.”

“The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that multi-family 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 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 multi-family housing construction complies with these laws and to provide periodic reports to the Justice Department.  The 11 complexes are:

1.  Villages at Belle Hill, Elkton, Maryland
2.  Burgess Mill Station I, Ellicott City, Maryland
3.  Burgess Mill Station II, Ellicott City, Maryland
4.  River Point Apartments, Essex, Maryland
5.  Hammarlee House Apartments, Glen Burnie, Maryland
6.  Overland Gardens, Landover, Maryland
7.  Rainier Manor Phase II Apartments, Mount Rainier, Maryland
8.  Chapel Springs Senior Apartments, Perry Hall, Maryland
9.  Hampshire Village, Silver Spring, Maryland
10. Windsor Crossing Family Apartments, Suitland, Maryland
11. Windsor Crossing Senior Apartments, Suitland, Maryland

The six complexes built by Humphrey Stavrou Associates, Inc. that are the subject of the continuing lawsuit are:

1.  Pin Oak Village, Bowie, Maryland
2.  Woodland Creek Apartments (formerly “Henson Creek Manor I and II
Apartments”), Fort Washington, Maryland
3.  Woodside Village Apartments, Fort Washington, Maryland
4.  Acclaim at Lake Largo (formerly “Largo Center Apartments”), Largo, Maryland
5.  Randolph Village Senior Apartments, Silver Spring, Maryland
6.  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 e-mail to the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov 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 United States Attorney’s Office together with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforce 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.

U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly S. Phillips of the District of Maryland and Trial Attorneys Beth Pepper and Jennifer McAllister of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, who are handling these cases.

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