FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MONDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1997

CR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO FILE SUIT AGAINST LAS VEGAS CONDOMINIUM DEVELOPERS, CITING VIOLATION OF FAIR HOUSING ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As part of a continuing effort to open doors for people with disabilities, the Justice Department today sued the developers and architect of four housing developments in Las Vegas, Nevada for allegedly failing to construct accessible housing complexes. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, charges the owners and designer of Rock Springs Vista Properties with violating the Fair Housing Act by not including certain features which would make four of their residential complexes accessible. "The requirements of the law are clear and simple," said Isabelle Katz Pinzler, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The benefits of the law to people with disabilities are profound." Under the Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, multi-family housing developments designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 1991 are required to contain certain accessibility features. These requirements include: accessible common areas; doors and hallways wide enough for wheelchairs; installation of electrical outlets; reinforced bathroom walls on which grab bars can be installed; bathrooms and kitchens which allow enough space to maneuver a wheelchair; and lowered electrical outlets, light switches and thermostats. With the exception of the kitchens at the four properties, the housing units referenced in the lawsuit do not comply with all of the above-cited requirements. The Justice Department complaint seeks a court order requiring that the Rock Springs housing units, as well as any future housing the defendants might design and construct, be accessible. The lawsuit also seeks damages for victims of discrimination and civil penalties. In September 1994, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began to conduct the first of four separate investigations of the Rock Springs Vista Properties. After efforts to conciliate these matters failed, it referred them to the Justice Department for further investigation and enforcement. A

complaint that was filed against a fifth Rock Springs Vista Property was resolved in early November. "Persons with disabilities have the right to live where they choose," said Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of HUD. "There is no acceptable reason for newly constructed apartments to be unavailable to people with disabilities. It's unfair, it's illegal, and this Department won't tolerate it." Cuomo noted that HUD successfully resolved five other accessibility complaints from citizens in Las Vegas, resulting in agreements providing relief for the complainants and commitments by developers to correct alleged violations. The Justice Department and HUD have reached out to the building industry to inform those involved in the design and construction of multi-family housing about the requirements of the law. "Through our education efforts we hope to encourage all those involved in constructing multifamily homes to understand and follow the law," added Pinzler. The developments in alleged violation of federal law are: Rock Springs Vista #7, located at Vegas Drive and Durango Drive, Las Vegas; Rock Springs Vista #8, located at Vegas Drive and Buffalo Drive, Las Vegas; Rock Springs Vista 9, located at Buffalo Drive and Ducharme Avenue, Las Vegas; and Rock Springs Vista Mesquite, located at Rock Springs Drive and Mesa Boulevard, Mesquite. ### 97-529