On October 23, 2013, the North Texas Fair Housing Center (NTFHC) along with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) filed a federal complaint against BBL Builders L.P. for discriminating against people with disabilities. The complaint alleges that the Builders failed to comply with the Fair Housing Act’s design and construction requirements, which specifically outlines accessibility guidelines for builders. As explained in the blog entitled (accessibility summary title), requires that all multifamily housing designed and constructed by 1991 or later be accessible to people with disabilities. In this instance, nine Texas apartment complexes allegedly built after the 1991 compliance date mandated by law did not meet those guidelines.
Since its inception in 1993 (two years AFTER the mandated compliance date set forth in the law), BBL has been awarded over $1 billion in contracts and has constructed over 15,600 multi-family units. Several of the apartment complexes identified in the complaint were built using Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance that was specifically designed for moderate income families, elderly, and people with disabilities.
The complaint alleges BBL violated federal law due to, among other things, insufficient space to navigate bathrooms/ kitchens in a wheelchair as well as overly narrow and steep routes through the property which makes them inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. “BBL built apartments with barriers for people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility impairments.” said Frances Espinoza, Executive Director of the NTFHC, “for instance, the ways the kitchens are designed make it a challenge for someone in a wheelchair to cook on the stove or even to open the refrigerator. Also, pathways to the apartments can be blocked for wheelchair passage by parked vehicles. BBL must retrofit these properties.”
Click here for full HUD memo/guidelines regarding design/construction & accessibility requirements.