WASHINGTON – Oct. 24, 2016 – Under the Fair Housing Act, multifamily housing built after March 1991 must contain accessible features for people with disabilities. Requirements include accessible common areas, bathrooms and kitchens, wider doors and environmental controls that can be reached by residents who use wheelchairs.
As a result, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charging the owners and developers of Ashlynn Estates, a 27-unit complex in Ellensburg, Washington, with housing discrimination for designing and constructing housing units that fail to meet the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
"For more than 25 years, owners and developers have known their legal responsibility under the Fair Housing Act to design housing that is accessible to people with disabilities," says Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Constructing units that are not accessible reduces the availability of this critically needed housing and puts owners and developers at risk for paying for costly retrofitting on top of damages and other penalties."
HUD's charge is the result of a complaint filed by Northwest Fair Housing Alliance, a non-profit organization located in Spokane. Specifically, HUD alleges that the buildings' bathroom and closet doors that are not wide enough for wheelchair access; there is insufficient floor space at bathroom fixtures; and there are no accessible entrances, parking spaces or accessible curbs or ramps.
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