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Friday, December 2, 2022

2 Indianapolis properties named in accessibility lawsuit

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A lawsuit filed by fair housing organizations in multiple states alleges dozens of properties that advertise for people 55 and older have violated federal accessibility requirements. Two of the complexes named in the lawsuit are in Indianapolis.

The organizations, including the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), allege Clover Group and its various entities are guilty of “widespread and flagrant violations” of the Fair Housing Administration’s rules related to accessibility. The lawsuit says all properties advertise as being fully handicapped-accessible.

Also named in the lawsuit is an architect firm based in New York.

The lawsuit lists 38 properties, most of which are in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The two Indianapolis complexes are Pleasant Run Senior Apartments and Wynbrooke Senior Apartments. A third complex in McCordsville is named in the lawsuit.

The alleged violations “signal that people with disabilities are not welcome,” the complaint says.

In general, alleged violations outside of the buildings include not having enough accessible parking spaces for residents with disabilities, not having accessible routes to primary entrances and not having mailboxes that are accessible to people in wheelchairs.

Alleged violations in the interior of buildings include not having accessible bathrooms and patios.

The lawsuit was filed March 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York Syracuse Division.

The complaint includes photos from the fair housing organizations’ investigations. At Pleasant Run Senior Apartments, for example, photos showed a striped access area in the parking lot without an accessible curb cut in the sidewalk, as well as a car blocking a sidewalk ramp.

FHCCI began its investigation of Indiana properties in June 2021 after being informed of possible disability discrimination.

Clover Group lists a general phone number that directs callers to leave a voicemail. The company has not responded to a request for comment. On its website, the company says: “At Clover Group, we pride ourselves on delivering an affordable housing option committed to independence, dignity and helping the 55+ community live the life they always have.”

According to census data, about 14% of people in Indiana have some form of disability, though the FHCCI believes that is likely an undercount.

Congressed passed the Fair Housing Amendments Act’s design and construction accessibility requirements in 1988. Any multifamily housing with four or more units built for first occupancy on or after March 13, 1991, must meet those requirements. According to the lawsuit, that applies to all of the properties named in the complaint.

“Even with the passing of the fair housing accessibility amendments over 30 years ago, we still see blatant violations of disability discrimination throughout Indiana,” Brady Ripperger, FHCCI deputy director of administration and advocacy, said in a statement. “Persons with disabilities deserve basic, accessible housing, free from inaccessibility and discrimination.”

The housing organizations have requested a jury trial.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853 or email at tylerf@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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