Community helps teen with cerebral palsy get long-awaited parking spot

Mom wants accessible parking

CENTREVILLE, VA (WUSA9) - Ibis Espinal is a single Mom trying to do the best she can for her 19-year-old son, Juwaan, a diehard Washington Redskins fan.

She never expected one of the Redskins players to team up with the community to give him a life-changing gift. 

Juwaan Espinal’s positive spirit in the face of cerebral palsy and other serious medical issues has inspired his community. His Centreville High School classmates have embraced him, as have the Washington Redskins and other professional athletes.

No one anticipated the gift of a custom van from the Pierre Garcon Foundation and the local business community would create a problem at Lakeside Apartments.

When Ibis approached Lakeside management to ask for an accessible parking spot so her son could be safely loaded and unloaded from the van, she was told if she didn’t like it there, she could leave. Bozzuto had already designated a reserved parking space for her.

Another car is parked in her reserved parking space. 

In fact, this car hasn’t moved in months. Its owner is believed to be out of the country. 

We checked with the National Fair Housing Alliance.

"If a tenant has a disability and needs a reasonable accommodation, and a reasonable accommodation could be an assigned parking spot that’s accessible, if the housing provider fails to grant that, then it would be considered unlawful," said Justin Monteiro, National Fair Housing Alliance. 

But when the WUSA9's No Barriers team asked Bozzuto about this, the management company insisted there was no legal requirement and they banned them from the property.

Bozzuto apparently had a change of heart. After we intervened, Ibis now has the van accessible parking space she requested.

Bozzuto declined our interview requests, but the company did give Ibis that parking spot and it’s creating a path for Juwaan’s wheelchair so he can visit the lake on the property. 

The Espinal’s apartment has already been updated to include more accessible features. The car parked in Ibis’ reserved spot has been towed away.

If you know of a barrier to someone with a disability, take a photograph or shoot a short video and email it to us at: nobarriers@wusa9.com. Be sure to include the date and location, and we’ll be sure to check it out. That’s what our #NoBarriers project is all about. 

This story was brought to our attention by a Facebook follower who was outraged by what she viewed as an injustice to Juwaan and his mother. 


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