Major Settlement Will Ensure That People with Disabilities Have Access to Housing
January 14, 2010 - Posted by Beth Sadler
In a landmark settlement announced this week, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and its member organizations reached an agreement with A.G. Spanos Companies to increase housing accessibility for people with disabilities. It is the largest fair housing settlement relating to people with disabilities to date, according to NFHA.
The agreement requires Spanos, the fifth largest residential real estate developer in the United States, to retrofit apartments in 11 states with accommodations for people with limited mobility. Spanos will also contribute multi-million dollar funding both locally and nationally to provide other supports and compensations for its residents and others with disabilities.
Fair Housing advocates welcomed the agreement. "Building accessible housing from the start will protect the civil rights of those with disabilities and ultimately save hundreds of thousands of dollars," said David Baade, the executive director of the Fair Housing Continuum in Melbourne, Florida.
The agreement is the result of a 2007 case filed by NFHA charging that thousands of Spanos apartment units violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA requires that multi-family apartments and common areas be accessible to people with disabilities. Spanos apartments violated a number of regulations including a lack of floor space to accommodate wheelchairs and inaccessible outlets.
With 54 million Americans suffering from some form of disability, this settlement marks the growth of a vital relationship between fair housing advocates and the real estate industry to provide fair housing to people with disabilities.