The National Fair Housing Alliance and Paralyzed Veterans of America settled a housing discrimination lawsuit against HHHunt Corporation on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was initially filed on the grounds that HHHunt, a Virginia-based real estate development company, discriminated against people with disabilities since 2002 by constructing multifamily homes and public areas without the required accessibility features.
The HHHunt Corporation was found in violation of the Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.
HHHunt agreed to pay for accessibility surveys of its nine apartment complexes in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina to see if the 1,247 in question units are up to accessibility guidelines.
HHHunt is required to make the nine apartment complexes properly accessible to the handicapped within one to three years. An undisclosed amount will be paid to cover costs and attorney's fees for the National Fair Housing Alliance and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
There are still claims that remain against J. Davis Architects, which designed some of the complexes.
Len Selfon, acting general counsel of Paralyzed Veterans of America, said in an interview that the litigation serves a two-fold purpose: It corrects the problem and it sends a message to other developers involved with properties that have barriers to persons with disabilities.
"They'll be held accountable for those violations, and organizations like Paralyzed Veterans of America are on the watch to see where there are injustices like this and to correct them," Selfon said.
Selfon said the HHHunt Corporation was cooperative in trying to resolve the matter.
"As part of the settlement, they agreed to retrofit the dwellings that are in violation and bear the cost of that, and be mindful in their future projects of the requirements of the fair housing act and other anti-discrimination laws," Selfon said.A representative with HHHunt was not immediately available for comment.