Local developer named in federal lawsuit alleging disability-based discrimination at 71 apartment complexes

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WASHINGTON – The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court, against the owners and developers of 71 multifamily housing complexes in four states for failing to design and construct housing units and related facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities.  The lawsuit states the 71 complexes contain more than 2,500 ground-floor units that are required by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to have accessible features.  The Justice Department says this is the government’s first lawsuit in Alabama alleging violations of the FHA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the design and construction of multi-family housing.

“The Fair Housing Act assures individuals with disabilities are provided accessible housing,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance of the Northern District of Alabama.  “My office is committed to taking action in cases where unlawful discrimination violates the access of those with disabilities to fair housing.”

The suit alleges that 36 properties in Alabama, 25 in Georgia, nine in North Carolina and one in Tennessee have significant barriers, including steps leading to building entrances, non-existent or excessively sloped pedestrian routes from apartment units to site amenities (e.g., picnic areas, dumpsters, clubhouse/leasing offices), insufficient maneuvering space in bathrooms and kitchens and inaccessible parking.

The suit names as defendants Alabama-based developers Allan Rappuhn, Gateway Construction Corporation, Gateway Development Corporation and other affiliated companies.   The suit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to bring properties into compliance with the FHA and the ADA, as well as monetary damages for persons harmed by the lack of accessibility and a payment of civil penalties to the United States.  The complexes at issue, all of which were built with financial assistance from the federal government’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program or other federal programs, are:

 

  • Alexander Terrace Apartments, Moulton, AL
  • Americus Gardens Apartments, Americus, GA
  • Applegate Apartments, Florence, AL
  • Autumn Ridge Apartments, Jacksonville, NC
  • Bailey Springs Apartments, Lincolnton, NC
  • Belle Isle Apartments, Robertsdale, AL
  • Blue Springs Apartments, Jacksonville, NC
  • Bradbury Apartments, Newton, NC
  • Brentwood Landing Apartments, Prattville, AL
  • Brentwood Landing II Apartments, Prattville, AL
  • Brookstone Village Apartments, Jacksonville, AL
  • Canebreak Apartments, Wilmington, NC
  • Cedar Glades Apartments, Shelbyville, TN
  • Charleston Square Apartments, Troy, AL
  • Cherry Ridge Independent Living Apartments, Birmingham, AL
  • Cottage Hill Pointe Apartments, Mobile, AL
  • Double Creek Apartments, Florence, AL
  • Eagle Pointe Apartments, Madison, AL
  • Evergreen Village Apartments, Cedartown, GA
  • Hamilton Place Apartments, Millbrook, AL
  • Harbor Square Apartments, Decatur, AL
  • Heatherwood Apartments, Alexander City, AL
  • Heritage Vista Apartments, Milledgeville, GA
  • Heron Lake Apartments, Valdosta, GA
  • Heron Lake II Apartments, Valdosta, GA
  • Hickory Run Apartments, Jacksonville, AL
  • Hickory Run II Apartments, Jacksonville, AL
  • Highland Park Senior Village, Douglasville, GA
  • Hunter Pointe Apartments, Centreville, AL
  • Ivy Pointe Apartments, Tuscumbia, AL
  • Ivy Pointe II Apartments, Tuscumbia, AL
  • Kirby Creek Apartments, Cairo, GA
  • Kirkwood Trail Apartments, Cedartown, GA
  • Lakeshore Crossing Apartments, Huntsville, AL
  • Lenox Station Apartments, Rockingham, NC
  • Liberty Square Apartments, Montgomery, AL
  • Mallard Lake Apartments, LaGrange, GA
  • Maple Square Apartments, Jefferson, GA
  • Meadowview Apartments, Greenville, AL
  • Oakland Mill Apartments, Lincolnton, NC
  • Oleander Park Apartments, Mobile, AL
  • Orchard Park Apartments, Hayneville, AL
  • Palladian Apartments, Mobile, AL
  • Palladian-Fairhope Apartments, Fairhope, AL
  • Palladian-Jubilee Apartments, Daphne, AL
  • Palladian II Apartments, Mobile, AL
  • Parkwood Apartments, Pell City, AL
  • Pebble Creek Apartments, Butler, AL
  • Pinewood Apartments, Pooler, GA
  • Powell Place Apartments, Barnesville, GA
  • Preston Place Apartments, Quitman, GA
  • Shadowood Apartments, Stevenson, AL
  • Shellbrooke Pointe Apartments, Fairhope, AL
  • Sheppard Station Apartments, Pooler, GA
  • Skyline Trace Apartments, Monroe, GA
  • Sterling Oaks Apartments, Spindale, NC
  • Stoney Creek Apartments, Laurinburg, NC
  • Stony Ridge Apartments, Hogansville, GA
  • Sullivan Village Apartments, Tuscumbia, AL
  • The Park at Rocky Ridge Apartments, Birmingham, AL
  • Timberfalls Apartments, Thomaston, GA
  • Valley Ridge Apartments, LaGrange, GA
  • Village at Wedgewood Apartments, Cairo, GA
  • Villas on Forsyth Apartments, Barnesville, GA
  • Waring II Apartments, Waycross, GA
  • Waterford Farms Apartments, Arab, AL
  • Wincliff Apartments, Gainesville, GA
  • Woodlawn Terrace Apartments, Valdosta, GA
  • Glencoe Trace Apartments, Griffin, GA
  • Waring Apartments, Waycross, GA
  • Westfork Apartments, Jasper, AL

 

Anyone with information about the inaccessible conditions at these properties should call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743and follow the prompts to enter mailbox number 2.

The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and disability.  Among other things, it requires all multifamily housing constructed after March 13, 1991, to have basic accessibility features, including accessible routes without steps to all ground floor units and units accessible to wheelchair users and others with disabilities.  Enacted in 1990, the ADA requires, among other things, that 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 disabilities.

The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct.  The allegations in the complaint must still be proven in federal court.