Fair Housing Center Logo.
The exterior of Uptown in Canton Apartments complex under construction.

Lowrey v Uptown & FHC v Uptown

#W06-21 & 21b | Location: Canton | Court Level: Federal | Settlement: $227,500, Plus $45,000 for the FHC, and renovation of 97 first floor units and addition of accessible parking

Categories: Physical Disability, Rental
Tags: Parking, Wheelchair

In a landmark settlement, the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan has negotiated an agreement which will require the Uptown in Canton Apartments complex to renovate 97 first-floor units, in order to fully comply with the 1988 Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act. The lead plaintiffs in the case, Michael Lowrey and his mother Marilyn Lowrey, have accepted $227,500 to settle their claims of discrimination.

Mr. Lowrey, who uses a wheelchair, contacted the center in early 2006 because his apartment, advertised as “barrier free,” had some accessibility problems. Mrs. Lowrey, a retired nurse, frequently visited her son to help with his care. Able to walk only short distances due to her disabilities, she parked behind Mr. Lowrey’s unit (there were no near by accessible parking spaces). Mrs. Lowrey joined the suit after Uptown staff repeatedly threatened to tow her car.

During our investigation FHC discovered that only four first floor units in the new complex were made accessible. The Fair Housing Act says all multi-family housing built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, must adhere to seven design requirements regarding wheelchair accessibility for ground floor units, and an accessible route. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines an accessible route as “an unobstructed path connecting accessible…spaces in a building or within a site that can be negotiated by a person…using a wheelchair.” FHC found problems with the sidewalks, lack of access to the mailboxes and other common areas of the property. Mr. Lowrey was forced to sit outside the pool area fence while his guests swam, because the only ramp led to a locked Club House.

According to the settlement, Uptown in Canton Apartments will finally make the property more accessible for people with disabilities. This includes retro-fitting all ninety-seven first floor units; providing accessible routes through the entire property; and adding accessible parking. Costs for the changes are estimated at over $1,000,000.

FHC Cooperating Attorney J. Mark Finnegan filed the case in Federal Court on behalf of Mr. Lowrey in July 2006. A year later, the FHC Board of Directors voted to intervene in the case. Cooperating Attorney Steve Dane of Relman, Dane & Colfax represented the FHC. Both cases were assigned to Judge Nancy Edmonds.

Learn More

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to keep up to date on our cases, events, and other fair housing news.