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Accessibility - Key Requirements

HOME-funded programs are subject to several Federal laws governing accessibility for disabled persons. These laws include structural requirements for the design and construction of facilities, as well as requirements to ensure that disabled individuals have access to programs and activities that receive federal funding.

Which accessibility laws should PJs and their partners consider when implementing heir HOME programs?

In addition to the nondiscrimination requirements that are described in the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity - Key Requirements subject area of this topic, the key accessibility laws that apply to the HOME Program include the following:

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (24 CFR Part 8)
    Known as "Section 504," this Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in any program receiving Federal monies, such as the HOME Program. It governs the design and construction of housing to ensure that Federal programs are operated to be accessible to persons with disabilities, and to ensure that a portion of housing developed with Federal funds is accessible to those with mobility, visual, and hearing impairments. See Section 504 Notices, Regulations and Supportive Documents for more information.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12131; 47 U.S.C. 155, 201, 218, and 225)
    The ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all programs and activities sponsored by state and local governments. The Act specifically gives HUD jurisdiction over discrimination against people with disabilities as it pertains to housing programs or activities on the state or local government level.
  • Fair Housing Act, as amended (24 CFR Part 100 et seq)
    This Act was amended in 1988 to include persons with disabilities as a protected class, and apply design and construction requirements to housing developed with private or public funds. This law requires property owners to make reasonable modifications to units and/or public areas in order to provide "full enjoyment" of that unit to a disabled tenant(s) or potential tenant. Further, it requires property owners to make reasonable accommodations to its rules or procedures that may be necessary to afford a disabled tenant with full use and enjoyment of the premises (e.g. allowing a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog, even if the building has a "no pets" policy).

Notice PIH 99-52 describes Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and the Fair Housing Act of 1988. This notice provides examples, and resources on key elements ofthese regulations.

When do design and construction standards apply? Which standards apply?

BothSection 504 and the Fair Housing Act are applicable to the HOME Program, and PJs must be certain that they are meeting the requirements of both laws. Each has different requirements of applicability by project type. In general, when triggered, the Fair Housing Act requires a greater number of accessible units than Section 504. However, the technical specifications required by Section 504 apply a higher standard of accessibility than the Fair Housing Act.

  • The Fair Housing Act applies to all newly constructed multifamily housing (rental and homeownership) with four or more units.
    • Entrances,common spaces, and all ground floor dwelling units of non-elevator buildings, and all units of elevator buildings must be made accessible, in accordance with the Fair Housing Act standard.
  • Section 504 requires full accessibility in accordance with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, or "UFAS". Section 504 applies to all Federally-assisted newly constructed housing of five or more units, and substantially rehabilitated housing of fifteen or more units.
    • Under Section 504, HOME-assisted rental housing developments must provide full accessibility for persons with mobility impairments in at least five percent (but no fewer than one) of the units.
    • In addition, at least two percent (but no fewer than one) of the units must be made fully accessible to persons with sensory (hearing or vision) impairments.
    • Entrances and common areas must also be fully accessible.
    • Furthermore,24 CFR Part 8.29 requires that single family housing units receiving Federal assistance for construction and rehabilitation activities must be made accessible upon the request of the prospective buyer if the nature of that buyer's handicap requires such modifications.

What other requirements apply?

In addition to the design and construction standards, Section 504 requires that the PJ's program, when viewed in its entirety, by readily accessible to, and usable by, persons with disabilities. In order to meet this obligation, PJs must do the following:

  • Distribute accessible units throughout projects and sites, and make them available in a range of sizes and amenities to maximize choice.
  • Adopt suitable means to ensure that information about the availability of accessible units is made available to disabled persons.
  • Disseminate program information and unit availability information in a manner that is accessible to persons with disabilities, such as using telecommunication devices, materials in Braille, or American Sign Language interpreters, as needed.
Note: PJs and their partners may be subject to additional state or local accessibility laws. If that is the case, the more stringent standards apply.