The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to spend more than $200 million over the next 10 years to remodel and build new affordable apartments that are accessible to disabled residents. The decision settles a 2012 federal lawsuit brought by three nonprofit advocacy groups that accused the city of shirking its responsibility to make publicly funded housing projects accessible to residents with disabilities.
Los Angeles, "stands for inclusiveness and access for all ... If we have fallen short of that commitment, we need to fix it as quickly as possible," Mayor Eric Garcetti said a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times reports that, among other issues brought up in the lawsuit, bathrooms are often too small to accommodate wheelchairs or lack support bars, and, in a few instances, doorways are so small that wheelchair users can’t even enter the units.
Now, the city will build new affordable housing and remodel existing units to make them accessible to disabled residents. Michael Allen, who represents the three nonprofits, tells the Los Angeles Daily News that the $200-million deal is the largest of its kind in U.S. history. In addition to that figure, the city will also pay out about $25 million in fees to the plaintiffs and their attorneys.
A spokesperson for the city administrator’s office tells the Daily News that some of that money could potentially come from the $1.2 billion housing bond to address homelessness that the city is putting before voters this November. In the meantime, though, Councilman Gil Cedillo is unfazed by the price of the settlement. He tells the Times that the city’s finances are in good shape and that the council is obligated to ensure equal access to publicly funded housing.