Filed Date: Sept. 30, 2022
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This lawsuit is about discrimination against individuals with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division filed suit against the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) and seven private developers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on September 30, 2022.
The complaint alleged that following Hurricane Katrina, the Housing Authority of New Orleans initiated a redevelopment program to modernize and replace public housing developments. The Housing Authority and seven private developers designed and constructed eight developments, all multifamily dwellings, relatively quickly. Seven of the eight properties at issue in the complaint were a part of redevelopment effort, and were developed using federal funds administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The DOJ alleged that the developments violated the Fair Housing Act, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and civil penalties. The case was assigned to Judge Lance M. Alfrick and Magistrate Judge Donna Phillips Currault.
According to the complaint, the properties had a number of inaccessible features that did not meet the requirements of the FHA , including:
Combined, the DOJ alleged that these design and construction failures amounted to "a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the FHA" and a denial to a group of persons of rights guaranteed by the FHA.
The DOJ also alleged that the design and construction of the leasing offices and their associated parking lots and restrooms at five of the properties violated the ADA. Per the complaint, the inaccessible features at the five properties included:
On October 3, 2022, the DOJ announced they had reached a proposed consent judgment pending approval by the court and on October 5, 2022, Judge Africk entered the parties' proposed consent order. Under the terms of the consent order, the defendants were enjoined from discriminating on the basis of disability and required to (1) contract qualified surveyors approved by the United States to conduct on-site surveys of the properties to identify any further violations; (2) retrofit the properties to address the accessibility issues identified by the DOJ and any further violations identified by on-site surveyors; (3) minimize inconvenience to impacted residents and provide alternate accommodations if necessary, including payment of the applicable government per diem rates for food and/or lodging; (4) provide written notice to all residents of retrofits to be perform on public or common use areas; and (5) contract neutral inspectors approved by the United States to inspect all retrofits. The defendants were also prohibited from raising rent prices because of the cost of retrofitting. The defendants further agreed to educate all of their involved staff and contractors regarding the order and post notice of their non-discrimination policy. The defendants were ordered to create a $200,000 settlement fund for affected residents and pay a $50,000 civil penalty.
The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement for five years following the date of filing.
Sandy Sulzer (10/18/2022)
Last updated Dec. 24, 2022, 3:08 a.m.
State / Territory: Louisiana
Filing Date: Sept. 30, 2022
Case Ongoing: Yes
Plaintiffs are residents of New Orleans housing developments that lack accessible units or accessible public spaces or entrances.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Amount Defendant Pays: 250,000
Order Duration: 2022 - 2027
Content of Injunction:
Type of Facility: