|HUD No. 22-080
HUD Public Affairs
April 27, 2022
HUD APPROVES AGREEMENTS WITH HAWAII HOUSING PROVIDERS RESOLVING CLAIMS OF DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has approved two Voluntary Compliance/Conciliation Agreements (Agreements) with EAH Inc. and other Artspace Lofts entities, to resolve complaints of disability discrimination.
The complaints alleged that the builders failed to design and construct, Ola Ka ‘llima Artspace Lofts, an 84-unit building located in Honolulu, Hawaii, in accordance with the Fair Housing Act’s requirements for accessible housing. The complaints also alleged that the building failed to comply with the accessibility requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, the complaints alleged that the respondents failed to provide reasonable accommodations and modifications for persons with disabilities. The housing providers are recipients of federal financial assistance. Read the Agreements (agreement one, agreement two).
The Fair Housing Act requires certain features of accessible design in all residential buildings with four or more units built after March 13, 1991, including, for example, accessible routes, wider doorways, and accessible and usable kitchens and bathrooms for persons who use wheelchairs. Section 504 requires recipients of federal financial assistance to provide at least the minimum number of designated accessible units that comply with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. In addition, Title II of the ADA requires public entities to ensure facilities are readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities, including through the removal of physical barriers. These federal laws also require the provision of reasonable accommodations and modifications for individuals with disabilities.
“It is imperative that housing is constructed in compliance with all applicable federal accessibility requirements.” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “These Agreements are crafted to address both the complainants’ concerns as well as other individuals with disabilities.”
Both complaints were filed by residents of Ola Ka ‘llima Artspace Lofts, who are represented by the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, a HUD Fair Housing Initiative Program organization. Both residents, one who uses a wheelchair and another who used a walker, alleged that the building was inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Specifically, they alleged that the building failed to have accessible building entrances and exits, accessible parking and garage entrances, accessible doors in common and public use areas, accessible bathrooms and kitchens, and accessible light switches, among other things. The residents asked the housing providers to address the inaccessibility, but the resident manager allegedly declined to do so, telling one that she would have to pay for any retrofits herself.
The housing providers have agreed to pay the two residents who filed complaints $25,000 collectively and to create a “Fair Housing Aloha Accessibility Fund” by depositing $30,000 into an interest-bearing escrow account for the purpose of paying damages to other persons who may have been injured by inaccessibility at the property. The housing providers also agreed to hire third-party independent accessibility consultants to conduct accessibility surveys, complete a needs assessment, self-evaluation, and transition plan to ensure that the entire property is in full compliance will all applicable federal accessibility requirements. Based upon the outcomes of the surveys and assessments, the housing providers will make retrofits to the property that will include modifications to individual units to make them fully accessible and useable by residents with disabilities. The Agreements do not constitute admissions by the housing providers or evidence of a final determination by HUD of violations of the Fair Housing Act or any other laws.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to hud.gov/fairhousing.