ABC News reports that a settlement between A.G. Spanos Companies and the National Fair Housing Alliance has been reached. A.G. Spanos Companies is owned by the sons of prominent GOP sponsor Alex Spanos. The companies settled a a federal lawsuit that claimed that its housing complexes were not accessible to the disabled. Housing for the disabled, or accessibility, is a requirement of the federal Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act requires that construction companies build housing that is accessible to people with disabilities. This means that they must have public and common areas accessible to persons with disabilities, have doors or hallways accessible to persons with disabilities, and have units that are handicap friendly (such as handicap accessible routes, accessible light switches, outlets, accessible kitchens, and reinforced bathroom walls for installation of grab rails).
The settlement requires that the construction companies pay $7.4 million dollars in order to comply with the law by retrofitting their complexes. They plan to rehabilitate up to 12,300 apartment units as well as set up a fund of $4.2 million dollars for disabled renters and homeowners who desire to retrofit their own dwellings.
Michael Spanos was quoted in a statement by ABC News as saying, "The A.G. Spanos Companies are proud to reach this agreement. (We) share the same goal: ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy equal access to housing." Michael Spanos personally met civil rights groups and advocates for equal housing while the two parties tried to broker a settlement. According to ABC News, this is the largest settlement of its kind.