ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a discrimination lawsuit against an apartment complex in south St. Louis County. The suit alleges the complex is not accessible to people with disabilities.
The lawsuit arose from a complaint filed by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The DOJ claims HUD investigated the complaint and determined Bridgewater Residences Apartments’ owners, developers, and builders violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
HUD referred the matter to the Justice Department for legal action. Missouri-based LJLD LLC and Westminster Properties are named as defendants in the suit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
“This lawsuit seeks changes in an apartment complex in which the visually impaired risk injury simply getting the mail,” said U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming. “Wheelchair users may not be able to get into or use bathrooms, adjust their own thermostats, safely get to their patios or access the complex’s office, dog park and other amenities.”
According to the lawsuit, Bridgewater Apartments has “significant accessibility barriers including excessively sloped pedestrian routes from apartment units to the public street and to site amenities (such as the dog park, mail center, dumpster, management/leasing office); barriers to accessible parking; inaccessible bathrooms; inaccessible door hardware; and insufficient maneuvering space at entrances to common use areas that make those entrances inaccessible to many people with disabilities.”
The DOJ is seeking a court order requiring the owners to make the apartment complex FHA and ADA compliant, provide monetary compensation to those affected by this problem and pay civil penalties, and prohibit them from designing or building future residential properties that discriminates against the disabled.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on a person’s race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires multifamily housing complexes be designed and constructed after Jan. 26, 1993, be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Individuals affected by the lack of accessibility at the Bridgewater Apartments are asked to contact the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-833-591-0291 (and follow the automated prompts) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.