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Monday, April 4, 2022
Justice Department Alleges Disability Discrimination in Hawaii Condos
By News Release @ 4:33 PM :: 1772 Views :: Development

Justice Department Alleges Disability Discrimination in Amended Lawsuit Concerning Design and Construction of Multifamily Housing in Hawaii

News Release from US Department of Justice, April 4, 2022

The Justice Department filed an amended complaint today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, alleging that 14 entities designed and constructed five condominium and apartment complexes in Hawaii without accessible features required by the Fair Housing Act. Two of the properties — Kahului Town Terrace, in Kahului, Maui; and Palehua Terrace, in Kapolei, Oahu — were built with financial assistance from the federal government’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. The other three properties are Napilihau Villages and Napili Villas, in Lahaina, Maui; and Wailea Fairway Villas, in Kihei, Maui.

The government’s original complaint named the general contractor for all five properties and the architects of four of the properties. The amended complaint adds the following defendants, alleging that each contributed to the Fair Housing Act violations: Stanford Carr Development LLC; SCD Wailea Fairways LLC; Sato & Associates Inc.; Ronald M. Fukumoto Engineering Inc.; Rojac Construction Inc.; Delta Construction Corp.; Warren S. Unemori Engineering Inc.; and GYA Architects Inc.

“Companies behind the mass development of condominiums, apartment complexes and other forms of multifamily housing must ensure that these properties are designed and built to be accessible to people with disabilities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Federal accessibility rules have been in place for more than three decades, and we will hold accountable developers, architects, contractors and other entities that fail to comply with these legal obligations.”

The amended complaint alleges the same accessibility violations as the original complaint. For example, many covered units are inaccessible to persons using wheelchairs because the routes to the entrances include stairs or steep slopes; many routes to public and common areas are inaccessible because of missing sidewalks, missing curb ramps or steep slopes; and many units have inaccessible hardware at entry doors, interior doors that are too narrow and insufficient space in kitchens and bathrooms to maneuver in a wheelchair. The requested relief includes a court order requiring the defendants to retrofit the five properties to bring them into compliance with the Fair Housing Act, as well as monetary damages to compensate victims.

Individuals who may have been affected by the lack of accessibility at these properties should call the Civil Rights Division’s Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-833-591-0291, press 1 for English, press 6 for this case, and leave a message, or send an email to fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of disability, race, color, religion, sex, familial status and national origin. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination should contact the Department of Justice toll-free at 1-833-591-0291, by email at fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or submit a report online at https://civilrights.justice.gov/. Individuals may also contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777, or online at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp.

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