Thursday, September 28, 2006

Justice Department Settles Allegations of Disability Discrimination Against Texas Developers, Architects, Engineers

To: National Desk

Contact: Department of Justice Office of Public
Affairs, 202-514-2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Justice
Department today settled a lawsuit against 10 Austin,
Texas developers, builders, architects and engineers
alleging disability discrimination in the design and
construction of two housing developments in Austin.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Texas, was brought to enforce provisions
of the federal Fair Housing Act that require recently
constructed dwellings to include features designed to
make the dwellings more accessible to persons with
physical disabilities.

"People with disabilities, like all Americans, deserve
the opportunity to obtain fair housing in their
communities," said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney
general for the Civil Rights Division. "This lawsuit
under the Fair Housing Act helps to ensure that we
remain a welcoming society for all Americans."

Under the consent decree, which must be approved by
the court, the following companies have all agreed to
make accessibility retrofits at St. John's Village and
Hunting Meadows Apartments.

-- Legend Communities Inc., which does business as,
SDC Austin, Communities

-- Randall Jones Engineering, Inc.

-- Alexander Consulting Engineers, Inc., which does
business as, Professional Design Group

-- Trugreen Landcare, L.L.C., which does business as,
Land Design Studio

-- Hatch Partnership, L.L.P., Architects

-- Danze & Davis Architects, Inc.

-- St. John's Housing Partnership, L.P.

-- SMDC Development, Inc.

-- Decker Lane Partners, L.P. and

-- SDCW Development Corp.

St. John's Village is a complex of 156 rental
apartments, including 52 ground-floor units and
Huntington Meadows has 200 rental apartments,
including 110 ground-floor units. Under the Fair
Housing Act, ground-floor units in non-elevator
buildings must contain certain accessible features,
such as: usable doors; accessible routes into and
through the units; accessible light switches,
electrical outlets, thermostats and other
environmental controls, reinforced walls in bathrooms
for installation of grab bars and usable kitchens and
bathrooms.

The defendants will retrofit parking areas, paths and
walkways, public and common-use areas, as well as the
interiors of ground-floor units, to enhance the
accessibility of the complexes to disabled residents
and their guests. The decree also requires the
defendants to establish a $50,000 fund which will be
used to compensate individuals harmed by the
inaccessible housing and to pay $10,000 in civil
penalties to the government. The settlement also
mandates the defendants to undergo training on the
requirements of the Fair Housing Act and to make
periodic reports to the government on the status of
their facilities.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination
in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex,
familial status, national origin and disability. Since
Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department's Civil Rights
Division has filed 209 cases to enforce the Fair
Housing Act, including 97 based on disability
discrimination. For more information about the Civil
Rights Division and the laws it enforces, visit
http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

-0-

/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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