Friday, March 29, 2013

Developer/Landlord Of Multi-Unit Residential Buildings Settles Fair Housing Suit Tagging It For Allegedly Failing To Provide Accessibility Features For Persons With Disabilities

The National Fair Housing Alliance reports:

  • The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and West Palm Beach Coalition for Independent Living Options (CILO) have settled a federal housing discrimination lawsuit against Cornerstone Group Development Corporation, one of the largest multifamily housing developers in Florida and the United States. Cornerstone has agreed to make modifications at more than fifty residential developments in Florida, which include over 5,000 apartments covered under the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The modifications will make apartments and common areas accessible for people with disabilities.

    The agreement settles claims by NFHA and West Palm Beach CILO that Cornerstone Group and
    several of its affiliates discriminated against people with disabilities by designing and/or constructing multifamily dwellings, and common- and public-use areas, without the required accessibility features. Cornerstone Group develops, constructs and operates affordable housing properties throughout Florida.

    As part of this resolution, Cornerstone has agreed to create and subsidize a Housing Accessibility Fund supervised by NFHA. This fund will help Floridians with disabilities make their homes more accessible. In addition, Cornerstone will pay $1.35 million in damages, expenses, attorney fees and other costs to NFHA and West Palm Beach CILO. Cornerstone will also provide training on the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements for its executives and on-site construction managers.
  • The lawsuit and settlement underscore the importance and need for affordable accessible housing for persons with disabilities. In order for persons with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their homes, they need to have paths free of steps; kitchens and bathrooms with sufficient maneuvering space for wheelchair users at sinks and toilets; wide doorways; lowered thermostats; and accessible parking with access aisles.

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