A prominent Westchester developer has reached a $175,000 settlement with federal officials for violating the Fair Housing Act by failing to make a pair of Rockland County developments not properly accessible to people with disabilities.
Geoffrey Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced on Friday that Valhalla-based Ginsburg Development Companies reached the settlement from a 2016 lawsuit alleging that two developments in Haverstraw, with several hundred units, were inaccessible.
As part of the agreement, Berman said that Ginsburg has agreed to make retrofits to two apartment complexes in Haverstraw - the Riverside and the Parkside - to make them more accessible. They have also committed to establishing procedures to ensure that its future residential development projects will comply with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Agreement.
Ginsburg has also agreed to provide $125,000 to compensate those who were violated and to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.
According to the allegations in the complaint and the factual admissions in the settlement stipulation, the Riverside and Parkside apartment complexes, which Ginsburg designed and constructed, have a number of inaccessible features, including excessively high thresholds within individual units, insufficient clear floor spaces in bathrooms and kitchens, and doors in both individual units and common areas that are not wide enough to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
In a statement, Ginsburg Development Companies said that they are "committed to providing accessibility to all of our residents. We have always been sensitive to the needs of disabled persons and we go well beyond the requirements of the FHA in making even further accommodations to their apartments. We are pleased to have resolved this issue with the settlement of the federal lawsuit. We look forward to continuing to provide the finest residential properties in the Hudson Valley."
Berman said that those who are eligible to collect money include people who:
- Were discouraged from living at Riverside or Parkside because of the lack of accessible features;
- Have been hurt in any way by the lack of accessible features at Riverside or Parkside;
- Paid to have an apartment at Riverside or Parkside made more accessible to persons with disabilities; or
- Otherwise were discriminated against on the basis of disability at Riverside or Parkside as a result of the inaccessible design and construction of the properties.
Those who are entitled to a claim have been instructed to contact the Civil Rights Complaint Line by calling (212) 637-0840.
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