- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Developers of six housing complexes in Mississippi have agreed to make the apartments and condominiums more accessible to people with disabilities.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in May 2014 against Ike W. Thrash, Dawn Properties Inc., Southern Cross Construction Company Inc. and other affiliated companies, saying they had violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A trial was set to begin next month. Under a settlement approved Friday and announced Monday, the developers will pay $350,000, make bathrooms more usable and provide accessible curb ramps and parking. They will also eliminate steps and provide accessible paths to clubhouses, pools and mailboxes at the complexes.

The changes will be made at Beach Club Apartments in Long Beach, Belmont Apartments in Ocean Springs and Hattiesburg, Grand Biscayne Apartments in Biloxi, Lexington Apartments in Ridgeland and Inn by the Sea Condominiums in Pass Christian.

“Barriers created by inaccessible housing and public accommodations deny the fundamental protection afforded by the Fair Housing Act,” said U. S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis said in a news release announcing the settlement.

The release said that in the $350,000 payment, $100,000 is for civil penalties and $250,000 is to compensate 25 people harmed by the inaccessible housing. It also said the defendants will undergo training, ensure that any future construction complies with federal accessibility laws and make periodic reports to the Justice Department.

The lawsuit was filed after the Justice Department investigated complaints that had been made to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


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