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Feds Charge Architect, Owners of Housing Complexes in NJ, PA, CT With Disability Discrimination

Alcoeur Gardens, Brick Township
Alcoeur Gardens, Brick Township Photo Credit: GoogleMaps

The architects and owners of multi-family developments in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut failed to build units and facilities accessible to people with disabilities, the federal government charged Friday.

J. Randolph Parry Architects, P.C. and eight owners of 15 multifamily properties designed by the architectural firm violate both the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Justice Department alleged.

“[T]here is no excuse for owners and architects to continue developing properties that fail to comply with the accessibility requirements of these statutes,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said. “This flagrant disregard of federal law must stop, and stop now.”

The lawsuit filed in federal court in 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.”

It identifies the properties, all designed by J. Randolph Parry Architects, as:

  • Alcoeur Gardens, Brick Township, NJ;
  • Alcoeur Gardens, Toms River, NJ;
  • Homestead, Hamilton Township, NJ;
  • The Villa Rafaella Addition, Pleasantville, NJ;
  • Woodbury Mews Colonial House, Woodbury, NJ;
  • Traditions of Hanover, Bethlehem, PA;
  • Traditions of Hershey, Palmyra, PA;
  • Chestnut Knoll, Boyertown, PA;
  • Arbour Square, Harleysville, PA;
  • Cedar Views Apartments, Philadelphia, PA;
  • The Birches, Newtown, PA;
  • The Lifequest Nursing Center Addition, Quakertown, PA;
  • Keystone Villa, Douglasville, PA;
  • Church Hill Village, Newtown, CT;
  • Heritage Green, Mechanicsville, VA.

The lawsuit seeks an order that:

(1) requires the defendants to bring the properties into compliance with the FHA and ADA;

(2) requires the defendants to pay monetary damages to anyone “harmed by the lack of accessibility,” as well as civil penalties to the United States to “vindicate the public interest”;

(3) prohibiting the defendants from designing or constructing multifamily properties “in a manner that discriminates against people with disabilities.”

Federal authorities asked anyone with information about conditions at the identified properties to call the Department of Justice at 1-833-591-0291, and select option numbers (1 4 1): select one for English, four for housing accessibility and one for US v. J. Randolph Parry Architects to leave a message or send an email to fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and familial status.

It requires all multifamily housing constructed after March 13, 1991, to have basic accessibility features, including accessible routes to all units in buildings with elevators.

The ADA, meanwhile, requires 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. 

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