Five apartment complexes cited for not being accessible to everyone
The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council recently filed complaints against five new apartment complexes in the Metro area for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Credit: KMOV
(KMOV.com) - The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council recently filed complaints against five new apartment complexes in the Metro area for violations of the Fair Housing Act.
EHOC executive director Will Jordan told News 4 that the failure to meet construction requirements on accessibility prohibits someone with a disability from living at the apartment complexes.
"They're clear violations, and since 1991 that's been the law," said Jordan.
The apartment complexes that were cited are Bramblett Hill Apartments in O'Fallon, River Crossing Apartments in St. Charles, Pinecrest Apartments in Dardenne Prairie, Vance Station Apartment Homes in Valley Park and Bridgewater Cove Apartments in south St. Louis County.
The violations include no curb cuts to allow a wheelchair to get from the parking lot to the apartment buildings, exterior doors with knobs instead of levers and thermostats placed out of reach of someone in a wheelchair. Other violations include door thresholds too high for a wheelchair, no reinforced walls for grab bars in bathrooms and bathrooms that lacked enough space to accommodate a wheelchair.
Aimee Wehmeier is president and CEO of Paraquad, an organization that advocates for people with disabilities. She said there's a shortage in the St. Louis area of affordable, accessible housing.
"The most disheartening part of this, you know this is 600 apartments that are not available for people with disabilities or who are older," said Wehmeier.
A co-owner of Bramblett Hill Apartments, Michael Towerman, said he would never intentionally violate the laws on accessibility at apartment complexes.
"We paid an architect and contractor to build it in accordance with every law," said Towerman.
Kent Evans is one of the owners of the Vance Station Apartments and he told News 4 he thought his apartments were in compliance with all laws.
Evans said, "There were architects and engineers. It was approved by Valley Park and St. Louis County."
The complaints will be forwarded to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD is expected to follow up with its own inspection and then work with the building owners to create a plan to correct the problems.
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