GALVESTON, Texas - A Texas apartment developer and a
Texas site engineer had agreed to settle a federal lawsuit alleging they
violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA). The suit alleged they built an eight-building addition and associated
rental office at the Seasons Resort in Galveston that were inaccessible to
persons with disabilities.
“There is no place in our community for violating the ADA
and FHA,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. “Our Office is committed to
enforcing these to ensure that every person with a disability has full access
to residential buildings within our district.”
“The FHA and the ADA require that new multifamily housing
be accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Assistant Attorney General
Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit and its resolution
help ensure that individuals with disabilities and their families live with
dignity and enjoy equal housing and all other opportunities available to the
people of the United States.”
Today’s settlement, pending court approval, settles a
lawsuit the department filed in February 2019. It alleged Galveston
developer TFT Galveston Portfolio LTD and site engineer James W. Gartrell Jr.
violated the FHA and the ADA when they designed and constructed an
eight-building addition and associated rental office at the Seasons Resort in
2003. The structures had steps and other features that made it inaccessible to
persons with disabilities.
Under the terms of the settlement, Galveston Portfolio
must take corrective actions such as removing steps, replacing steeply-sloped
walkways and adding accessible parking to make public and common use portions
of the property accessible to persons with disabilities, including wheelchair
users. They must also construct a new apartment building with 24 accessible
units as well as a new accessible rental office and establish a $75,000
settlement fund for people the lack of accessible features at the Seasons have
harmed. The settlement also requires Galveston Portfolio and Gartrell obtain
training on the requirements of the FHA and ADA and ensure any future housing
they design or construct complies with FHA and ADA requirements.
Persons who lived at or sought to live at the Seasons
Resort and were denied housing or otherwise harmed because the complex was not
accessible may be entitled to monetary compensation through today’s settlement.
Such persons can contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743
mailbox #94 or via email.
The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing based on
disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex and familial status.
The FHA requires all multifamily housing constructed after March 12, 1991, to
have basic accessibility features, including accessible routes without steps to
all ground-floor units. The ADA requires places of public accommodation, such
as rental offices at multifamily housing complexes designed and constructed for
first occupancy after Jan. 26, 1993, be accessible to persons with
information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is
available here. Individuals who believe that they have been
victims of housing discrimination may call the Justice Department at
1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department or
contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777
or through its website.