Disabled man wins rent-free apartment for life after being steered by Maryland apartment complex

The owners and managers of Wheaton Place Apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland, have agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by Jack Wright, the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs. Wright is deaf, blind and has Usher's Syndrome.

Wheaton Place has agreed to furnish Wright with an apartment for life, rent-free, at Wheaton Place. The two bedroom apartment at Wheaton Place has been estimated by the defendants to have a lifetime value of $340,000 and a present value of $169,000. In addition, the owners of Wheaton Place have agreed to pay $160,000 in compnesatory damages.

This "apartment-for-life" settlement represents the largest fair housing settlement to date in the nation filed by a private fair housing agency and an individual victim of housing discrimination based on disability.

Wright, a Montgomery County resident, applied to live at Wheaton Place Apartments in January of 1993. Wright selected the complex because of its convenient location. It was close to both public transportation and shopping centers. Wright made it clear to the rental agent at the apartment complex that he was capable of independent living, and even offered to pay, in advance, the full expenses of one year's rent.

The agent refused Mr. Wright's offer, citing that the apartment complex does not have any facilities for the handicapped, and recommended a nearby complex that did have such facilities.