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Post date: April 15 2011

A.G. Schneiderman Secures Agreement With Major Housing Developer To Provide Accessible Housing For People With Disabilities

Agreement Requires Major Changes to Long Island Apartment Complex and Independent Monitoring to Guarantee Equal Access to Housing for all New Yorkers

Schneiderman: No Matter How Big or Powerful the Developer, My Office Will Enforce Fair Housing Laws and Ensure the Most Vulnerable are Protected

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced his office has secured an agreement with one of the nation's largest housing developers, Trammell Crow Residential, ensuring equal access to housing for people with disabilities. The settlement agreement requires the developer to make significant retrofits to Suffolk County's Atlantic Point Apartments, a 795-unit apartment complex, to ensure that people with disabilities have full use of the facilities. 

Trammell Crow Residential must also pay $75,000 to compensate individuals who are harmed by the inaccessible housing, and work with an independent expert to certify that future construction of apartment complexes are in compliance with New York State and federal accessibility laws. Tenants who were harmed as a result of the developers' failure to construct the property as legally required will be eligible to receive restitution by submitting a claim to the Attorney General.  The Attorney General will then evaluate the claims for compensation and distribute the funds.

“Equal access to housing is a right guaranteed by law, and we must remain vigilant in removing barriers preventing equal access to housing for all New Yorkers," said Attorney General Schneiderman.  “No matter how big or powerful the developer, my office will enforce fair housing laws and ensure the most vulnerable among us, including those with disabilities, are protected."

Trammell Crow Residential has developed more than 225,000 residential units across the country.  The agreement follows a lawsuit brought against the developer by former Attorney General Cuomo in April 2010, and requires Trammell Crow Residential to complete retrofits in Bellport's Atlantic Point apartments and common areas, including providing accessible routes to amenities such as pools, mailboxes and exercise facilities.  Furthermore, the agreement requires retrofitting of bathrooms, kitchens, and outlets in designated apartments.

Tenants living in the complex will receive a notice advising them of the law and the structural changes to be made to their apartments. Tenants will be able to request additional modifications to increase accessibility. The modifications will be free of charge to the tenants. 

Trammell Crow Residential must also hire a consultant, who must be approved by the Attorney General’s office, to conduct on-site inspections to determine whether retrofits have been completed as required by the agreement.  The agreement also requires Trammell Crow Residential to certify to the Attorney General prior to the commencement of any future residential construction projects in New York that the project complies with the accessibility requirements under New York State and federal accessibility laws. Pantzer Properties, the current owner of Atlantic Points, has agreed to cooperate with the Attorney General and Trammell Crow Residential to ensure that these requirements are fulfilled with minimal inconvenience to current tenants.

Brad Williams, Executive Director of the New York State Independent Living Council, said, "We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his commitment to the civil rights of all New Yorkers.  Developers now have notice that inaccessible housing that violates the law will not be tolerated.  Building accessible housing rarely costs developers more money, but is invaluable to disabled individuals and their families.  Accessible housing is necessary to having fully integrated and sustainable communities."

Paul Tobin, President and CEO of United Spinal Association, said, “Inaccessible housing not only shuts people with disabilities out of apartments but also out of communities.  Developers have a legal obligation to build housing accessible to all, I commend the Attorney General for ensuring that New York lives up to its obligation to provide a housing market free from discriminatory barriers.”

The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Brooke P. Davis and Sunita Kini-Tandon, under the supervision of Chief Counsel for Civil Rights Spencer Freedman.