Several federal laws require that private and federally-assisted housing is accessible for those with disabilities. The Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), along with several other statutes, define the requirements for physical accessibility. You can see more on the legal background on the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website.
In short, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life.” While the Fair Housing Act (FHA) plays a critical role in making sure that’s a reality, ensuring disabled people can have a safe, clean place to live.
How is ADA-Compliant Public Housing Different?
When we talk about accessible or ADA-compliant housing, we mean that it can easily be accessed by all people, regardless of any physical limitations or disabilities. It’s a way to ensure that the ADA becomes a real part of life in our society that removes barriers to existing in our world.
For example, someone who requires a wheelchair can’t easily get to the second floor of a building without an elevator, lift, or ramp. If that space was truly accessible and ADA compliant, it would contain the features needed to accommodate someone with a wheelchair—among other features.
Requirements for Accessible Public Housing
As a Section 8 rental property owner or manager, knowing the guidelines and regulations that govern public housing is essential. Remaining compliant comes with advantages. Not only can it avoid legal action, but having accessible rental properties gives you access to a broader market of prospective tenants.
Remember that ADA compliance is more than ramps and accessible parking. Here are some of the features that help ensure a rental or Section 8 property meet ADA compliance:
Accessible Building Entrance on an Accessible Route
The property must have at least one building entrance on an accessible route unless it is impractical to do so because of terrain or unusual characteristics of the site.
Accessible and Usable Public and Common Use Areas
Public and common areas like a parking lot must be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
All doors must be wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through.
Accessible Route Into and Through the Unit
There must be an accessible route into and through a unit, so people with disabilities can freely move from one room to the next.
Light Switches, Electrical Outlets, Thermostats, and Other Environmental Controls in Accessible Locations
All parts of the unit must contain light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in accessible locations.
Reinforced Walls for Grab Bars
Bathroom walls must contain reinforcements that allow for the installation of grab bars around the toilet, tub, shower stall, and shower seat.
Usable Kitchens and Bathrooms
Kitchens and bathrooms must be able to accommodate someone using a wheelchair to maneuver the space.