3/18/2024 in News & Media, Press Releases

New HUD Filing Alleges Ohio Company Gross Residential Violated the Fair Housing Act’s Accessibility Requirements at Properties in Four States

March 18, 2024
Contact: Janelle Brevard | jbrevard@nationalfairhousing.org

Washington, D.C. — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA™), and the Tennessee Fair Housing Council (TFHC) announced they filed a housing discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging that I. and M.J. Gross, d/b/a Gross Residential is in violation of the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements at 13 multi-family rental properties in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Gross Residential is an Ohio-based corporation that develops, constructs, and manages single-family housing and multi-family apartment communities.

In the complaint, which is the result of a months-long, multi-state investigation, NFHA and TFHC allege they have identified a pattern at Gross Residential communities of:

  • Inaccessibly constructed kitchens;
  • Inaccessible toilets and light switches;
  • A lack of accessible routes through the public and common use areas; and,
  • A lack of accessible parking spaces.

The investigation focused on properties in the Charlotte, NC; Nashville, TN; and Huntsville, AL metro areas. The inaccessible features documented are not merely an inconvenience. For many people with disabilities, they are tantamount to a denial of housing, and they limit housing choice in an already restricted and unaffordable rental market.

“Every individual deserves the right to access housing that meets their needs, regardless of their abilities,” said NFHA President and CEO Lisa Rice. “The National Fair Housing Alliance is resolute in its commitment to rooting out discrimination in all forms, especially when it denies people with disabilities the equal opportunity to enjoy safe and accessible housing. The alleged violations by Gross Residential across multiple states are not just a breach of the law; they represent a violation of the basic tenets of fairness and equality. We will continue to stand up against any actions that undermine the principles of the Fair Housing Act. It is our collective responsibility to create housing environments that are inclusive, accessible, and free from discrimination.”

“It is unacceptable that seven newly constructed apartment communities in Middle Tennessee do not comply with the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements,” said TFHC Executive Director Martie Lafferty. “These are minimum requirements which ensure that people with disabilities can use basic features of their housing such as their kitchen and bathroom. The Tennessee Fair Housing Council has long been committed to housing accessibility and will continue working to address barriers at these Gross Residential complexes and other housing communities.”

NFHA and TFHC are represented by noted civil rights law firm Relman Colfax PLLC. NFHA is also represented by Morgan Williams, NFHA’s General Counsel, and Scott Chang, Senior Counsel on NFHA’s Enforcement Team. TFHC is also represented by Martie Lafferty, TFHC’s Executive Director, and William Cox, Staff Attorney at TFHC.

Since March 13, 1991, the Fair Housing Act has required covered housing to conform to its accessibility requirements so that persons with disabilities have equal access to housing opportunities. For decades, NFHA, TFHC, and countless fair housing centers and disability rights advocates have been engaged in vigorous efforts to educate the housing industry of the accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act. But nearly 23 years to the day that Congress enacted this provision of the law, the evidence indicates there is still much more work to be done.

Millions of renters with disabilities face heightened housing insecurity. The lack of accessible housing and the increasing number of people with disabilities—estimates indicate that the Covid pandemic resulted in an additional 1.2 million persons with disabilities in the United States—suggest this social and economic crisis is at risk of worsening. Further, people in the U.S. are living longer, and accessible housing features are vital for people to age in place. It is essential that architects, developers, and anyone involved in the design and construction of multi-family housing comply with the law.

Any person who has been denied housing opportunity, or who does not have the full use of their apartment or common or public use areas in their apartment community because they have a disability should visit the National Fair Housing Alliance website immediately.

The full complaint can be found here.

The work that provided the basis for this press release was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.

The Tennessee Fair Housing Council (TFHC) is a private nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate housing discrimination in Tennessee. TFHC provides outreach, intake/referral, and legal assistance to Tennessee residents who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, issues with their housing as a result of discrimination.