3 local senior apartment buildings are part of a federal settlement over disability discrimination
Three senior apartment facilities in Greater Cincinnati are part of a $7 million settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit. Cincinnati’s Housing Opportunities Made Equal, or HOME, filed the suit with 10 other fair housing organizations in five other states.
They say Clover Group facilities were built out of compliance with the Fair Housing Act. HOME Director Elisabeth Risch says it’s not uncommon for housing to be inaccessible to people with disabilities.
“We're not talking about like, fully accessible units. This isn't ADA standards, it's not visibility standards (it's) so that people with disabilities can visit,” Risch said. “It's very basic level accessibility requirements that just kind of meet the bare minimum of how someone with a wheelchair or with other disabilities can maneuver around their properties. And yet, we still see a lot of issues at units.”
Clover Group owns and operates three senior apartment facilities in the Greater Cincinnati area: Eden Park in Hamilton, Fairfield Village in Fairfield, and Ivy Pointe in Clermont County.
In the settlement, Clover Group agrees to spend about $3 million retrofitting common areas to make them accessible to residents using wheelchairs and other mobility aids. This includes things like replacing sidewalks with excessive slopes, adding accessible parking spaces, and adding additional ramps and curb cuts.
Clover Group has also agreed to spend about $67,500 per property for modifications to individual units, requested by either a current resident or someone applying to be a resident. That can include things like widening doorways, lowering sinks and vanities, and providing ramps to patio or balcony doors.
“Under the Fair Housing Act, people with disabilities can request modifications. In private housing, usually the tenant has to make those modifications,” Risch said. “But in this case, because these properties were built out of compliance, the Clover Group will be paying for those modifications.”
The settlement also requires Clover Group to pay a total $750,000 to the fair housing organizations for attorney’s fees and to pay them back for staff time and other resources used to investigate the accessibility violations.
And any Clover Group employees involved in design or construction of multifamily housing will have to complete training on accessibility and the Fair Housing Act.
“They should know the law, especially since it's been a law for over 30 years,” Risch said. “It gets very technical; it's like specific inches of doorways and slopes. And really, architects need to know these things, developers, contractors, anyone involved in the development and construction of these buildings should be able to catch some of these issues.”
The settlement includes 50 buildings in six states, including 12 others in Ohio, five in Kentucky and three in Indiana.
Another lawsuit against Clover Group is ongoing, also related to alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.