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HUD: Seattle APodment Developer Must Make Units Accessible For Disabled People

A Seattle apartment development company that has been building so-called aPodments will have to retrofit one of its complexes to make the building accessible for people with disabilities following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

APodments are micro-housing developments that have been springing up around Seattle in the past couple of years. They consist of a number of small apartments with shared kitchens and common areas. 

Centro LLC is the owner and developer of the building in question, a 56-unit Capitol Hill property managed by Calhoun Property Management.

Sara Pratt is part of a team at HUD that makes sure buildings are accessible for people with disabilities. She says the department conducted onsite inspections and found that the building lacked a number of features that are required in newer buildings to make them accessible for people on crutches or in wheelchairs.

"A number of the units had steps that should have had flat entrances," Pratt said. "We also found that inside the units there were some difficulties with both thresholds and also light switches that were higher above the ground than they should have been."

Pratt says the developer agreed to take steps to make the building more accessible, including lowering the light switches and mailboxes, and making thresholds not as steep. She says Centro also agreed to build an additional fully accessible unit in a different building.

Pratt says aPodments may be a new building design, but the same requirements of the Fair Housing Act apply. Developers should keep those specifications in mind before they start building, she says, to avoid an expensive retrofit later.

Centro declined to comment. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.