the following piece from todays Inclusion Daily Express
demonstrates just how big a challenge we face in getting access to be taken
if this is the situation ten years on in the states how long will it be
before we make real progress here in the UK where equivalent housing
regulations kicked in in october .99 and where we won't see the same apply
to public buildings until 2004 and yet another year later for schools and
other education buildings.
Builders Continue to Violate Fair Housing Act, Suits Claim
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 17, 2001
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH & OLATHE, KANSAS--Since 1991, the Federal Fair Housing
Act has required builders of apartment complexes to include certain features
that would make their buildings accessible to people with disabilities.
These features can include things like light switches, door handles, and
thermostats that are low enough to be reached by a person in a wheelchair;
doorways that are wide enough for wheelchairs; grab bars in the bathrooms,
and so forth.
Two cases just since the beginning of this month illustrate that, even
though this has been the law for more than ten years, builders still don't
On May 1, the Deseret News reported that the Disabled Rights Action
Committee (DRAC) had filed suit against the owners, developers and
contractors of a 42-unit development. The advocacy group alleges the
three-story, three-building complex, built in 1993, is not accessible. The
lawsuit specifically names Governor Mike Leavitt's brother Eric O. Leavitt,
who is a part owner in the complex.
The suit seeks "unspecified punitive damages" and asks that the buildings be
changed to comply with the law.
In a separate case last week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal
suit in Kansas City, Kansas, against the developers of Homestead Apartment
Homes and Wyncroft Hills Apartments. DOJ noted on May 10 that the developers
were not willing to make changes to the units currently under construction
in Olathe, nor to any planned units not yet built.
The Justice Department is seeking a court order which would require the
developers to follow the Fair Housing Act by making the apartment complexes
accessible, along with compensating those whose rights have allegedly been
violated, and paying punitive damages and civil penalties.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible
for administering the Fair Housing Act. This HUD web page has more
information on this and other federal laws governing accessibility for
people with disabilities:
SURFACE (Salford University, Research Focus on Accessible Environments).
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