Central Indiana fair-housing group reaches settlement in senior-living lawsuit

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The Indianapolis-based Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana and 11 partner organizations have reached a settlement with a New York-based property owner in a lawsuit over disability-access issues at 50 different senior-living properties, including three in central Indiana.

On Wednesday FHCCI announced the agreement, in which Williamsville, New York-based real estate company Clover Group will spend up to $6.38 million to retrofit its properties to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

An attorney for Clover Group did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday morning.

The Indiana properties in the agreement are Pleasant Run Senior Apartments, at 4701 Todd Road on the south side of Indianapolis; Wynbrooke Senior Apartments, at 10318 E. County Road 200 N. on the city’s west side; and Gardens on Gateway Senior Apartments, which is set to open this winter at 7357 N. Gateway Crossing Blvd. in McCordsville. The three properties combined have about 360 apartment units.

Under the terms of the agreement, Clover will make an estimated $3 million in retrofits and upgrades to public areas at the 50 senior-living sites, such as providing accessible routes into buildings and to common areas such as community rooms, picnic areas and dog parks, and installing wheelchair-accessible ramps and replacing sidewalks where ramps are too steep.

Clover also agrees to set aside another $3.38 million for modifications to living units upon request by residents or those applying for residency. Those modifications could include installing roll-in or hand-held showers, widening the doorways to patios or balconies, and lowering countertops and light switches, among other things.

Clover has also agreed to pay $750,000 to cover the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and other costs associated with the case.

The lawsuit was originally filed in March in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York. In the complaint, the FHCCI and other plaintiffs accused Clover Group of violating the federal Fair Housing Act, which sets accessibility-related design and construction standards. Under that law, all multifamily housing with four or more units built for occupancy in or after March 1991 must comply with those standards.

“Across Indiana, tenants are facing a housing crisis, but for persons with disabilities that crisis is even more acute because of older housing that is not required to be accessible or because of newer housing that is not built to meet fair housing design and construction requirements,” FHCCI Executive Director Amy Nelson said in a written statement. “With this agreement, more senior residents will have access to housing units that better meet their needs and be able to age in place as they choose.”

FHCCI was the only Indiana plaintiff in the case. The other 11 plaintiffs were fair-housing groups in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

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