Under the settlement, which was approved June 25 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, JPI will pay $10,250,000 into an accessibility fund to provide retrofits at properties built by JPI and to increase the stock of accessible housing in the communities where these properties are located. The settlement also requires JPI to pay a $250,000 civil penalty. This is the largest civil penalty the Justice Department has obtained in any Fair Housing Act case.
“Today’s historic settlement demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Builders of multifamily housing must consider accessibility at the outset, or they risk significantly greater expense to retrofit properties. As a result of this settlement, multifamily housing complexes will be retrofitted to comply with the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and persons with physical disabilities will be afforded an equal opportunity to live in and visit these properties.”
“Equal access to housing for persons with disabilities is an important right protected by federal law,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Sarah R. Saldaña. “This settlement will help eliminate barriers and send a clear message that disability discrimination will not be tolerated. Disabled residents should know that this district remains committed to protecting their fair housing rights.”
The lawsuit was filed in March 2009, after the Justice Department conducted an investigation and found accessibility barriers at various JPI properties. Since 1991, JPI and its affiliates built 210 multifamily properties in 26 states and the District of Columbia; trial involving 32 of JPI’s properties was scheduled to begin July 9, 2012.
In addition to the $10.5 million payment, the consent order prohibits JPI from discriminating on the basis of disability in the future and from interfering with or preventing the retrofitting that will take place at the JPI properties. Although JPI is no longer in the multifamily development and construction business, if JPI reenters the business, it is required to design and construct covered multifamily dwellings to fully comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The JPI entities that are responsible for paying the settlement amount are: JPI Construction L.P.; Multifamily Construction L.L.C.; JPI Apartment Development L.P., dba JPI Campus Quarters; Lifestyle Apartment Development Service L.L.C.; Jefferson Bend L.P., dba Jefferson at Mission Gate Apartments; Jefferson Lake Creek L.P., dba Jefferson Center Apartments; and Apartment Community Realty L.L.C.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.
Source: United States Department of Justice