Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The Justice Department announced the filing Friday of a lawsuit against J. Randolph Parry Architects, P.C. and eight owners of multifamily properties designed by the architectural firm. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to design and construct housing units and related facilities to make them accessible to people with disabilities.
“The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act have been the law for more than a quarter century, and there is no excuse for owners and architects to continue developing properties that fail to comply with the accessibility requirements of these statutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “This flagrant disregard of federal law must stop, and stop now. We will hold accountable those who ignore their legal obligations to design and construct multifamily housing to be accessible to people with disabilities.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that at least 15 multifamily senior living properties have significant accessibility barriers, including inaccessible pedestrian routes to building entrances, inaccessible pedestrian routes from apartment units to amenities, inaccessible parking, door openings that are too narrow for a person using a wheelchair, environmental controls that are too high or too low for a person using a wheelchair to reach, and inaccessible bathrooms and kitchens.
The lawsuit seeks an order (1) requiring the defendants to bring the properties into compliance with the FHA and ADA, (2) requiring the defendants to pay monetary damages to persons harmed by the lack of accessibility and civil penalties to the United States to vindicate the public interest, and (3) prohibiting the defendants from designing or constructing multifamily properties in a manner that discriminates against people with disabilities.
The 15 properties, all designed by J. Randolph Parry Architects, that are alleged to violate the FHA and ADA are:
- Traditions of Hanover, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania;
- Traditions of Hershey, Palmyra, Pennsylvania;
- Chestnut Knoll, Boyertown, Pennsylvania;
- Arbour Square, Harleysville, Pennsylvania;
- Cedar Views Apartments, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
- The Birches, Newtown, Pennsylvania;
- The Lifequest Nursing Center Addition, Quakertown, Pennsylvania;
- Keystone Villa, Douglasville, Pennsylvania;
- Alcoeur Gardens, Brick Township, New Jersey;
- Alcoeur Gardens, Toms River, New Jersey;
- Church Hill Village, Newtown, Connecticut;
- Heritage Green, Mechanicsville, Virginia;
- Homestead, Hamilton Township, New Jersey;
- The Villa Rafaella Addition, Pleasantville, New Jersey; and
- Woodbury Mews Colonial House, Woodbury, New Jersey.
The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and familial status. Among other things, the FHA requires all multifamily housing constructed after March 13, 1991, to have basic accessibility features, including accessible routes to all units in buildings with elevators. Enacted in 1990, the ADA requires, among other things, that places of public accommodation, such as rental offices at multifamily complexes designed and constructed for first occupancy after Jan. 26, 1993, be accessible to persons with disabilities.