Nevada condo developer pays $37,500 to resolve HUD disability and accessibility complaint

A Las Vegas developer agreed to pay $37,500 to settle a housing discriminationcomplaint involving a 168-unit Las Vegas condominium complex that is not accessible topeople with disabilities. The May settlement agreement resolves a complaint filed with theUS Department of Housing and urban Development (HUD) by the Disability Rights ActionCommittee, a Las Vegas advocacy group.

The agreement will enable 56 first-floorcondominiums at the Pueblo at Santa Fe condo complex in Las Vegas to be remodeled so theyare accessible to people with disabilities. Frey Development Corporation is the developernamed in the complaint who will modify the condo units.

Settlement will make 56 units accessible for persons with physical disabilities

The settlement calls for Frey Development to put $20,000 into an escrow fund,available to current or future owners of 56 first-floor units at the Pueblo at Santa Fecondominiums. The funds will be used to retrofit the condos to make them accessible topeople with disabilities. In addition, Frey Development has agreed to donate $15,000 tothe Disability Rights Action Committee and to pay the organization's $2,500 in legal fees.

The escrow fund will be used to make certain types of modifications: widening doorwaysto fit wheelchairs, placing electrical outlets where someone in a wheelchair can reachthem, reinforcing bathroom walls to allow the later installation of grab bars, andcreating enough space in kitchens and bathrooms for a person in a wheelchair to maneuver.

The escrow fund can also be used to remodel entrances that currently have three-inchstoops and to change round doorknobs to lever-type handles. The escrow fund will beavailable to current and future owners of the ground-floor condos for the next six years,and will be administered by the condominiums' homeowners association.

Common areas will also be made accessible

Frey Development has agreed to make changes in the common areas of the complex,including designating parking spaces for people with disabilities, providing a clear routefrom the street to the community center for people in wheelchairs, and making thecommunity center's water fountain usable for people with disabilities.

Disabled Rights Action Committee President Ronald Ray Smith called the agreement"fair" and said his group appreciated the work by HUD to help reach thesettlement. He said, "This agreement helps insure that Nevada, and the Las Vegasmetro area in particular, will do what Congress intended: provide modestly accessiblehousing for people with disabilities of all income levels, from retirees who buy atimeshare on `The Strip,' to young families just starting out in their firstapartment."

A HUD-commissioned study found that if builders comply with the Fair Housing Act duringconstruction, their costs rise by only about one-third of one percent. However, remodelinga building that they have already constructed can cost a great deal more.

"For far too long, the housing accessibility needs of people with disabilitieshave been ignored, causing these Americans enormous hardship," HUD Secretary AndrewCuomo said. "The Fair Housing Act protects people with disabilities against this typeof terrible discrimination. Our message to builders and landlords across the nation issimple: obeying this law isn't optional. It's mandatory. We are enforcing this law andenforcing it vigorously."