Over the past two and a half decades, several statutes have been enacted at various levels of government that ensure nondiscrimination against people with disabilities, both in the design of the built environment and in the manner that programs are conducted. Even though this discussion concerns the application of the Fair Housing Act and the referenced Safe Harbor documents, certain dwellings, as well as certain public and common use areas, may be covered by several of the laws listed below.
The Architectural Barriers Act stipulates that all buildings, other than privately owned residential facilities, constructed by or on behalf of, or leased by the United States, or buildings financed in whole or in part by the United States must be physically accessible for people with disabilities. The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) is the applicable standard.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, provides that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability may be discriminated against in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The purpose of Section 504 is to eliminate discriminatory behavior toward people with disabilities and to provide physical and program accessibility, thus ensuring that people with disabilities will have the same opportunities in federally funded programs as do people without disabilities.
Program accessibility may be achieved by modifying an existing facility, or by moving the program to an accessible location, or by making other accommodations, including construction of new buildings. Section 504 also mandates that 5% of the dwelling units in newly constructed and substantially rehabilitated housing projects funded with federal financial assistance be made fully accessible for persons with mobility impairments and an additional 2% of the dwelling units be made accessible for persons with visual or hearing impairments. HUD's final regulation for Section 504 is incorporated in the Code of Federal Regulations at 24 CFR Part 8. Generally, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) is the design standard for providing physical accessibility, although other standards, which provide equivalent or greater accessibility, also may be used.
1 Source: Fair Housing Act Acessibility - HUD Grant Project to assist in the adoption of Safe Harbor Codes for Housing Accessibility
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