Builder in federal lawsuit constructed apartments in Kenton, Van Wert


By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com



CINCINNATI — An Ohio-based builder and developer of multi-family housing complexes is the target of a lawsuit filed last week by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio for alleged violations of the federal Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit was filed May 9 against Miller-Valentine Operations Inc. and affiliated companies and targets 82 multi-family housing complexes in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Of the 82 total properties listed in the lawsuit, 56 are in Ohio and four are in located communities near Lima. Those include Quail Run Apartments in Van Wert, Eagles Point Apartments in Kenton, Brookstone Apartments in Bellefontaine and Sycamore Creek Apartments in Sidney.

Tiffany Wright, assistant director of the Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority, said the local housing agency has never worked with Miller-Valentine on public housing projects.

The suit alleges the company failed to design and construct housing units to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. The 82 complexes contain more than 3,000 units that are required by federal law to have accessible features. The lawsuit further claims the defendants built many of the complexes with the financial assistance of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits or other federal government programs.

“For over two decades federal laws have required multi-family housing complexes to be built with accessible features,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a press release posted on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the rights of persons with disabilities to equal access to housing opportunities, including accessible dwellings and related facilities.”

The suit seeks an order requiring the defendants to bring the properties into compliance with the FHA and the ADA and to pay monetary damages to persons harmed by the lack of accessibility.

“I can say that Miller-Valentine Operations is a great company that prides itself on providing housing in communities serving a full range of residents,” Miller-Valentine CEO Elizabeth Mangan said in a statement published by multiple media outlets. “We hire professionals to ensure that all of our properties are designed and constructed to be accessible, adaptable and usable by persons with disabilities. Miller-Valentine Operations does not engage in or support discrimination in any form and we are not aware of complaints from residents regarding accessibility of our apartment homes.”

Anyone with information about the inaccessible conditions at these properties is asked to call the Department of Justice at 1-800-896-7743, and follow the prompts to enter mailbox number 9996, or send an e-mail to fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

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By J Swygart

jswygart@limanews.com

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