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Opening Acts: April 27, 2021

FHJC Settles Design and Construction Case

REMEDY REQUIRES RETROFITS IN FOUR BUILDINGS, MORE ACCESSIBLE APARTMENTS, AND $950,000 IN MONETARY RELIEF

Today, the Fair Housing Justice Center announced a settlement that resolves a federal lawsuit against developers The Rabsky Group LLC; Purvis Holdings LLC; North-Driggs Holdings, LLC; North Plaza Holdings LLC; engineering firm Salamon Engineering PLLC; and interior design company Durukan Design Inc. 

On April 27, Federal District Court Judge Eric R. Komitee so-ordered the settlement, which includes injunctive relief, extensive retrofits to four buildings, the development of 85 fully accessible apartments, and $950,000 in monetary relief. 

The lawsuit, filed by FHJC in July 2017, alleged that the defendants failed to comply with accessibility requirements in the design and construction of the 284-unit apartment building called Halo LIC in Long Island City (Queens) and 211 rental units at three buildings known as The Driggs located in Williamsburg (Brooklyn).  An FHJC investigation identified numerous inaccessible and non-compliant features in these buildings.

Under the settlement, the developer agreed to make extensive retrofits to the properties, including making common use areas accessible, adding accessible parking, creating wider door openings and adequate maneuvering spaces throughout the apartments, creating clear floor space in bathrooms and kitchens, and making environmental controls accessible. 

Beyond retrofits to the buildings mentioned in the lawsuit, the agreement also requires remedial action to ensure that all future housing built by the defendants will be designed and constructed in compliance with fair housing accessibility requirements. Additionally, The Rabsky Group will construct at least 85 dwelling units to be accessible for persons with mobility disabilities in accordance with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (“UFAS”). These 85 UFAS units will be accessible for wheelchair users and others with mobility impairments.  The UFAS units will be placed in multiple multi-family residential developments being developed by The Rabsky Group with units distributed across market-rate and affordable units.

Over 20 million people in the United States have mobility impairments. 5.5 million people use wheelchairs. And yet, it is estimated that less than 1% of the housing units in this nation are wheelchair accessible.  FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg commented: “Creating 85 additional UFAS units that are fully accessible for wheelchair users is a key part of this settlement. The goal will be to ensure that people who need these accessible features get access to the apartments.”

The settlement also calls for all the defendants to adopt fair housing policies and attend fair housing training, with special emphasis on accessibility issues and preventing discrimination against people with disabilities.

The FHJC was represented by Diane L. Houk and Nick Bourland with the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP.

The FHJC’s investigation in this case was supported, in part or in whole, with funding from a Private Enforcement Initiative (PEI) grant received from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen fair housing enforcement in the New York City region.