Disabilities Group Filing Lawsuit Against Local Apartments

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Two local apartment complexes in the hot seat after being accused of discriminating against the disabled. One group said it's time to take action and they're going to a judge for help.

"It makes him feel less than others, like he is a nobody," Luis Tijerina said, speaking on behalf of a family friend. "That's what he feels everyday coming home."

It's a 21-year-old law but one group said two local apartment complexes are ignoring it. Those apartments now facing lawsuits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the discrimination of the disabled but the West Texas Disability Rights program said that's exactly what's happening at the Acacia Park and University Gardens Apartments.

"Both of them need accessible parking to make their lives easier and to be able to get in and out of their homes," Aaron Thomas, an attorney representing the clients, said. "Both of our clients have requested these for months, almost a year for both of them. They just haven't complied."

Jonathan Hernandez is in a wheelchair and Karen McIntire uses an oxygen tank and she also has trouble walking.

Thomas said it wasn't until after they sent a written letter, the complex finally did something. They said the apartment complex reserved a spot for their client, but there isn't enough space for her to get out of her car. On top of that, she says the spot isn't close to her door.

"Trying to carry groceries in and work the cane, it's multiple trips for me," McIntire said.

"They did comply but only really halfway," Thomas said. "It isn't up to what they should be doing."

Now McIntire said the apartment complex is retaliating against her.

"They gave her a notice of eviction claiming she has been disturbing other people's comfort and convenience," Thomas said.

"Managers already told me they will not renew my lease," McIntire said.

Tijerina said there is a ramp for Jonathan but he's never able to use it because cars always block it.

"I hadn't heard about it in a while so I thought it was resolved," he said. "I was appalled that nothing had been done yet."

Both clients said they're not asking for much. They just want to live comfortably like everyone else.

"They just want to make sure their rights are respected and the rights of others after them are respected," Thomas said.

NewsWest 9 did try talking with the apartment manager about these accusations when on the property. NewsWest 9 also made several calls and left messages trying to get a comment afterwards but the manager did not get back to us.