MANCHESTER APARTMENT BUIILDING TO BECOME WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE
HUD settlement resolves allegations property violated Fair Housing Act
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that the developer and owner of a 10-unit apartment building in Manchester, New Hampshire will make the property accessible for persons with disabilities, settling allegations that the building does not meet the design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The retrofits by Fourth Street Realty, Inc. must be completed within 90 days.
HUD reached the agreement after two residents who use wheelchairs filed complaints with HUD alleging that a ramp in building’s front entrance was too steep, apartment thresholds were too high for wheelchairs to safely cross, and a basement storage area was inaccessible.
The Fair Housing Act requires that multifamily dwellings designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 1991 be accessible for persons with mobility impairments. It also requires that public and common use areas of a covered property be readily accessible and usable by persons with disabilities.
“Having accessible features in a dwelling is not just a legal requirement. Without these features, people with disabilities struggle to navigate and enjoy the very place they call home,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to ensuring that housing developers construct new buildings that meet the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.”
When Fourth Street Realty, Inc. finished construction and began leasing the property in 2009, it advertised the property to local health care and housing organizations as having “wheelchair accessible apartments” and listed a series of amenities, including “storage and parking.” However, when HUD inspected the property, investigators found several violations of the Fair Housing Act, including an inaccessible front entrance ramp and landing, interior thresholds lacking the appropriate slope to facilitate accessibility, and basement storage units without an accessible route to the building.
The planned retrofits will include a rebuilt front entrance ramp with handrails, an automatic door opener at the front entrance of the property, modified or replaced interior thresholds with proper edge treatments, and a wheelchair accessible lift to the basement storage units. Fourth Street Realty will also pay a total of $5,750 to the two residents who filed complaints, residents of three other units, and the Manchester Transit Authority’s “Public Meeting Access” program which serves the transportation needs of persons with disabilities.
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.govand http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv.