A fair housing advocacy organization has filed federal complaints against five new apartment complexes in the St. Louis area.
The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council claims the buildings do not meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities, further restricting an already limited supply of accessible housing in the region.
“We routinely hear from people who have a disability or who have accessibility issues. They need help finding a place and they’ll call us,” said Jim Ruedin, director of services for the Delta Center in St. Charles. “And I can’t find any, especially out here in St. Charles.”
The council distributed packets with pictures from their investigation, depicting curbs that did not have cutaways and leasing offices that were inaccessible to wheelchairs. Other issues at various apartments included doors with knobs instead of levers, bathrooms without enough space for a wheelchair to maneuver and thermostats placed too high on the wall.
One complex listed in by the council is the newly constructed Bramblett Hills community in O’Fallon, Missouri, owned by Tristar Companies. Tristar President Michael Towerman said he was shocked by the allegations, because the apartments went through dozens of inspections.
“The city of O’Fallon is so particular, and has been so tough on every project I’ve ever built,” Towerman said. “I’ve never known them to miss anything.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigates fair housing complaints. If substantiated, builders are allowed a chance to fix the problems before a case goes to court.
Towerman said that so far, he’s heard of no complaints by residents over the development's accommodations for people with disabilities.
Generally, requests for modifications are made to management companies before complaints are filed with the federal government, said Jamie Bryan of the St. Louis Apartment Association.
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