Real Estate Developer Agrees to Retrofit Apartment Complexes in Maryland, Virginia,
North Carolina and South Carolina to Meet Accessibility Standards
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) have settled a federal housing discrimination lawsuit against HHHunt Corporation, a Virginia-based real estate development company. HHHunt has agreed to permit accessibility surveys of its nine apartment complexes in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina to determine whether 1,247 units meet federal accessibility guidelines.
HHHunt has agreed to retrofit inaccessible features at all nine apartment complexes within one to three years and pay an undisclosed sum to cover costs and attorney’s fees for the National Fair Housing Alliance and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The agreement settles claims by NFHA and PVA that HHHunt engaged in a continuous pattern or practice of discrimination against people with disabilities since 2002 by designing and/or constructing multifamily dwellings, and common- and public-use areas, without required accessibility features. Claims remain against J. Davis Architects, PLLC, which designed one or more of the complexes. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.
“We are pleased that HHHunt has agreed to make its properties accessible for everyone by retrofitting units in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “When the thresholds for entry doors are too high or sidewalk slopes are hazardously steep, people with disabilities are effectively and illegally shut out. HHHunt has worked closely with us and has promised to correct these problems. The Fair Housing Act provides clear and straightforward standards for all developers, architects and engineers to follow.”
“We’re very pleased the HHHunt Corporation has agreed to make the necessary changes to make these properties accessible for all people,” said Bill Lawson, a U.S. Army veteran and national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Paralyzed Veterans will continue to work to ensure that housing discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.”
Properly retrofitting HHHunt buildings will mean changing entry doors with high thresholds, removing large steps that block routes to entry doors, correcting hazardously steep sidewalk slopes, providing adequate accessible parking that includes the required access aisle for people with mobility impairments and ensuring that kitchens and bathrooms have sufficient maneuvering space for wheelchair users at sinks and toilets.
The apartment complexes with alleged violations are: Abberly Crest in Lexington Park, MD; The Gardens at Twin Hickory in Glen Allen, VA; Abberly Place in Garner, NC; Auston Grove in Raleigh, NC; Abberly Green-Mooresville in Mooresville, NC; Auston Woods in Charlotte, NC; Auston Chase in Ridgeland, SC; Abberly at West Ashley in Charleston, SC and Ashton Pointe in Beaufort, SC.
The National Fair Housing Alliance and Paralyzed Veterans of America are represented by Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C.
National Fair Housing Alliance: Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Fair Housing Alliance, through comprehensive education, advocacy and enforcement programs, provides equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans and insurance policies for all residents of the nation. (www.nationalfairhousing.org)
Paralyzed Veterans of America: Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a band of spinal cord injured service members who returned home from World War II to a grateful nation, but also to a world with few solutions to the challenges they faced. These veterans from the “Greatest Generation” made a decision not just to live, but to live with dignity as contributors to society. They created an organization dedicated to veterans service, medical research and civil rights for people with disabilities. And for more than six decades, Paralyzed Veterans of America and its 34 chapters have been working to create an America where all veterans and people with disabilities, and their families, have everything they need to thrive. Paralyzed Veterans’ architecture department serves on the code committee that writes technical requirements for accessible multi-family housing. (www.pva.org)