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Fair housing settlement reached for 11 Erie County senior apartments

"We think it's going to have a clear direct benefit for those residents," said Daniel Corbitt, Associate Director at Housing Opportunities Made Equal.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — A company that owns 11 senior apartment complexes in Erie County is being forced to pay out millions of dollars. The Clover Group was accused of ignoring federal disability standards under the Fair Housing Act and was sued by 12 fair housing organizations in six states.

The $7.1 million settlement comes after years of work said Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Associate Director Daniel Corbitt.

HOME which is located in Buffalo worked on the federal civil rights lawsuit in which the fair housing groups claimed to have "uncovered widespread and flagrant violations of the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements" at 38 of Clover Group's properties in Ohio, New York, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

"Unfortunately what we found is that this housing provider was deficient in many areas," Corbitt said.

Those alleged violations include "inaccessible parking spaces, mailboxes, and routes to units and public and common use areas," as well as "inaccessible routes into and out of the units and bathrooms with inaccessible features" according to the lawsuit.

Clover settled the lawsuit and as part of it, has agreed to fix the alleged issues. $3 million has been set aside to retrofit common areas such as adding ramps and replacing difficult-to-traverse sidewalks that someone with a walker or wheelchair might not be able to access.

Another $3.375 million will be used to fix issues in individual apartments although residents will have to make those requests.

"Whether that means widening the doorways or lowering the countertops or whatever modification that needs to be made... we think it's going to have a clear direct benefit for those residents," Corbitt said.

The senior apartments that fall under this settlement are:

  • Brighton Square Senior Apartments (Tonawanda, NY)
  • Crestmount Square Senior Apartments (Tonawanda, NY)
  • Jill Joseph Tower Senior Apartments (Buffalo, NY)
  • Lancaster Commons Senior Apartments (Lancaster, NY)
  • Orchard Place Senior Apartments (Lackawanna, NY)
  • Sandra Lane Senior Apartments (North Tonawanda, NY)
  • Seneca Pointe Senior Apartments (West Seneca, NY)
  • South Pointe Senior Apartments (Hamburg, NY)
  • Sweet Home Senior Apartments (Amherst, NY)
  • Transit Pointe Senior Apartments (East Amherst, NY)
  • Union Square Senior Apartments (West Seneca, NY).

While the few people 2 On Your Side spoke to outside three of the Western New York complexes said they personally haven't had any issues and enjoy where they live. They were glad to hear the settlement might help their neighbors who need it.

2 On Your Side did ask Corbitt how Clover Group will be held accountable to make sure the requested and necessary improvements are made and he explained that the company has agreed to certain monitoring and said that the fair housing groups that were part of the lawsuit will be checking in to make sure changes are being made.

"We will be verifying that Clover is doing what they said that they will," Corbitt said. $750,000 from the settlement will be used to pay those individuals checking in.

2 On Your Side has reached out to the Clover Group for its response to the settlement and is waiting to hear back.

And while Corbitt said the settlement is a good thing overall he adds that HOME's greater goal of improving affordable housing doesn't start with litigation but rather education.

"We want to engage with the community stakeholders on both sides of these issues. And we want to bring folks together and really ensure that everyone is aware of what their rights and responsibilities are," he said.

Because if they learned one thing during the pandemic, Corbitt said it's that affordable housing needs more support and attention in America.

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