Housing Section Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND

BALTIMORE NEIGHBORHOODS,
INC., et al.,
     Plaintiffs,

v.

ROMMEL BUILDERS, INC.
     Defendants.

BRIEF OF THE UNITED STATES AS AMICUS CURIAE
IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGEMENTS AS TO LIABILITY
  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. Plaintiffs, Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. ("BNI") and Kevin Beverly brought this action against Rommel Builders, Inc. ("Rommel"), the builder of Lions Gate Condominiums ("Lions Gate"), alleging that Rommel had designed and constructed the ground floor units in ten of the buildings in the complex such that they are inaccessible to persons with disabilities and violate the amended Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 ("the Act").(1) Among other things, plaintiffs have alleged that these ground floor units are inaccessible under Section 804(f)(3)(C) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C), because there are steps to the front doors of the buildings in which they are located; all interior doors in the units employ either 30-inch or 28-inch wide doors -- widths too narrow for a wheelchair user to pass through; front doors to the units have inadequate clear space for a person in a wheelchair to maneuver on the latch side of the doors -- space required to enable such a person to open the door and travel through it unassisted; and none of the bathrooms in the units have reinforcements for later installation of grab bars.(2)

    Our brief addresses the discrete issue regarding the proper application of Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C)(iii).(3) As set forth in more detail below, we conclude that the "features of adaptive design" listed in that section of the statute are required to be included in the construction of dwellings units covered by the provisions of the Act. Our interpretation is consistent with a plain and generous reading of the Act, its legislative history, and the administrative interpretation of the statute by the agency charged with its enforcement. Moreover, our reading is necessary to insure that persons with disabilities are accorded the increased accessibility to housing -- not only as owners and renters but also as visitors to dwelling units occupied by others -- which Congress sought to provide through enactment of the amended Fair Housing Act.

  3. II. THE FAIR HOUSING ACT'S REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DESIGN OF NEW MULTIFAMILY DWELLINGS
  4. Congress passed the Fair Housing Act "to insure that people who have historically suffered from discrimination in the housing markets would have an equal opportunity to housing." People Helpers Foundation, Inc. v. City of Richmond, 789 F. Supp. 725, 731 (E.D. Va. 1992). The Act reflects the "overriding societal priority" of providing for fair housing throughout the country. Walker v. Crigler, 976 F.2d 900, 904 (4th Cir. 1992). Prior to 1988, the Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. See 42 U.S.C. §3604 (1974).

    In 1988, Congress amended Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act to make it unlawful to discriminate against any person in housing on the basis of handicap. See 42 U.S.C. §3604(f). In doing so, Congress defined "discrimination" for purposes of Section 804(f) to include:

    (3)(C) in connection with the design and con-struction of covered multifamily dwellings * * * a failure to design and construct those dwellings in such a manner that --

    (i) the public use and common use portions of such dwellings are readily accessible to and usable by handicapped persons;

    (ii) all the doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises within such dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by handicapped persons in wheelchairs; and

    (iii) all premises within such dwellings contain the following features of adaptive design:

    (I) an accessible route into and through the dwelling;

    (II) light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in accessible locations;

    (III) reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and

    (IV) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

    42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(3)(C).(4)

    The amended Fair Housing Act authorized the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") to issue regulations implementing the Act, 42 U.S.C. §3614a, and to "provide technical assistance to States and units of local government and other persons to implement the requirements of [Section 805(f)(3)(C) of the Act pertaining to design and construction]." 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(5)(C). The regulations related to design and construction requirements appear at 24 C.F.R. §100.205.(5) In addition to those regulations, HUD issued "Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines" ("HUD Guidelines"), pursuant to its authority under Section 804(f)(5)(C),(6) which were "intended to provide a safe harbor for compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act." 56 Fed. Reg. at 9499.

    The HUD Guidelines define "[a]daptable dwelling units" to mean "dwelling units that include the features of adaptable design specified in 24 C.F.R. 200.205(c)(2)-(3)." Id. In the preamble to the Guidelines which was published simultaneously with them, HUD further elaborated on that definition:

    The Fair Housing Act refers to design features that include both the minimal "accessibility" features required to be built into the unit, and the "adaptable" feature of reinforcement for bathroom walls for the future installation of grab bars. Accordingly, under the Fair Housing Act, an "adaptable dwelling unit" is one that meets the minimal accessibility requirements specified in the Act (i.e., usable doors, an accessible route, accessible environmental controls, and usable kitchens and bathrooms) and the "adaptable" structural feature of reinforced bathroom walls for later installation of grab bars.

    56 Fed. Reg. at 9480.

  5. ARGUMENT
    1. The Text and Structure of the Fair Housing Act Require that the "Features of Adaptive Design" Listed in Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the Act Be Incorporated into the Construction of Covered Dwelling Units.
    2. "Statutory interpretation always begins (and often ends) with the words of the statute itself." United States v. Southern Management Corp., 955 F.2d 914, 919 (4th Cir. 1993). Accord: Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., ___ U.S. ___, 117 S. Ct. 843, 846 (1997); United States v. Childress, 104 F.3d 47, 51 (4th Cir. 1996). In the context of the Fair Housing Act, courts have held that the Act employs a "'broad and inclusive' compass" and is entitled to a "'generous construction.'" City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 1776, 1780 (1995), citing Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 209, 212 (1972); Hovson's, Inc. v. Township of Brick, 89 F.3d 1096, 1105 (3rd Cir. 1996); Potomac Group Home Corp. v. Montgomery County, Maryland, 823 F. Supp. 1285, 1294 (D. Md. 1993). Here, such a construction dictates that the "features of adaptive design" listed in Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the statute be interpreted as requirements which must be included in the actual construction of dwelling units covered by the Act.

      As noted above (at pp. 3-4), the Act states, in pertinent part, that "it shall be unlawful" to "discriminate" on the basis of disability by "fail[ing] to design and construct [certain multi-family] dwellings in such a manner that * * * all premises within such dwellings contain [certain] features of adaptive design * * *." 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C)(iii)(emphasis supplied). As written, the statutory directive is a clear warrant that the enumerated "adaptive design" features be included in the dwelling units as constructed. Any other interpretation would nullify the presence of the words "and construct" and "contain" in the statute; and such an interpretation is not permissible.(7) As the Court of Appeals for this Circuit has observed, "A well-recognized canon of construction requires courts to read statutory provisions so that, when possible, no part of the statute is superfluous." Childress, 104 F.3d at 51. Accord: Virginia v. Browner, 80 F.3d 869, 876 (4th Cir. 1996) ("A court should not -- and we will not -- construe a statute in a manner that reduces some of its terms to mere surplusage.").

      Accordingly, this Court should reject any reading of Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) as permitting the "adaptive design" features enumerated therein merely to be designed and not constructed, thereby making them "adaptable", but not accessible. The four design features listed therein -- an accessible route into and through a dwelling, accessible controls, reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow the later installation of grab bars, and usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space -- are such that, if not included in the actual construction, extensive retrofitting would be required.(8) Indeed, the statutory provision which specifically calls for "reinforcements in bathrooms walls to allow later installation of grab bars," 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C)(iii)(III)(emphasis supplied), would have no meaning unless the requirement for reinforced walls is one which must be observed at the time of construction. While grab bars need not be part of the construction, the reinforcements (as well as the other "adaptive design" features") must be. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C)(iii)(III). The "adaptive design" sets the threshold, beyond which a disabled person may seek further modifications to meet his or her individual needs.(9) Simply put, a plain and generous reading of the statutory language cannot sustain a parsing of the "features of adaptive design" requirements from the "design and construct" mandate of Section 804(f)(3)(C).(10)

    3. The Legislative History of the Fair Housing Act Supports Requiring Incorporation of the "Features Adaptive Design" During Construction
    4. As amended, the Fair Housing Act constitutes "a broad mandate to eliminate discrimination against and equalize housing opportunities for disabled individuals." Bronk v. Ineichen, 54 F.3d 425, 429 (7th Cir. 1995). It represents a "clear pronouncement of a national commitment to end the unnecessary exclusion of persons with handicaps from the American mainstream." House Report, at 25; 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2186.

      The disability provisions of the amended Fair Housing Act "were intended to reach a wide array of discriminatory housing practices * * *." Potomac Group Homes Corp., 823 F. Supp. at 1294. Among the practices Congress intended to address through their enactment was the "consistent failure to design and build housing having accessible features." 134 Cong. Rec. S10544-02 (Aug. 2, 1988); 1988 WL 174369 at *31 (statement of Sen. Stafford). As noted in the Report of the House Judiciary Committee which accompanied H.R. 1158:

      Because persons with mobility impairments need to be able to get into and around a dwelling unit (or else they are in effect excluded because of their handicap), the bill requires that in the future covered multifamily dwellings be accessible and adaptable. This means that the doors and hallways must be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, switches and other controls must be in convenient locations, most rooms and spaces must be on an accessible route, and disabled persons should be able to easily make additional accommodations if needed, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom, without major renovation or structural change.

      House Report, at 18, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2179. The Report also noted:

      The Committee believes that these basic features of adaptability are essential for equal access and to avoid future de facto exclusion of persons with handicaps, as well as being easy to incorporate in housing design and construction. Compliance with these minimal standards will eliminate many of the barriers which discriminate against persons with disabilities in their attempts to obtain equal housing opportunities.

      Id., at 27, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2188-2189 (emphasis supplied).

      In speaking in support of the bill, Representative Owens elaborated on its requirement that adaptive design features be incorporated into the construction by saying:

      H.R. 1158 applies significant but relatively modest standards regarding accessibility in new housing construction. Many State and local building codes, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, and the ANSI standard, A117.1-1986, provide accessibility standards that are quite specific, comprehensive, and detailed. H.R. 1158 does not go as far as these; it seeks to assure only that certain basic, uniform features of adaptable design are incorporated in new multifamily housing construction. The requirements are that on the ground floor of nonelevator buildings * * * dwellings must be designed and constructed to include the following features: First, accessibility and usability by persons with disabilities of public use and common use portions; second, that all doors to and in such dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage of wheelchairs; and third, that premises contain certain specified features of adaptive design; that is, an accessible route into and through the dwelling; light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other controls in accessible locations; reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and usable kitchens and bathrooms that permit an individual in a wheelchair to maneuver about the space.

      134 Cong. Rec. H4922 (Jun. 29, 1988); 1988 WL 173280, at * 73 (Cong. Rec.)(statement of Rep. Owens)(emphasis supplied). Representative Owens further stressed:

      The features of adaptive design were negotiated with the input of the housing industry, and are intended to further the goal of establishing minimal standards to eliminate discriminatory barriers to persons with disabilities, with an incidental side benefit of fostering uniformity in the housing industry. These basic features of adapta-bility are so essential for the equal access of persons with disabilities, and are so easy to incorporate in housing design and construction, that failure to comply with them constitutes an unlawful act of discrimination. Compliance with these minimum standards will eliminate a great deal of the barriers which discriminate against persons with disabilities in their attempts to obtain equal housing opportunities.

      134 Cong. Rec. H4922; 1988 WL 173280, at *74 (emphasis supplied).(11)

      In arguing for adoption of the bill, Senator Kennedy, one of its chief sponsors in the Senate, stated that "because it is often far less expensive to provide for accessible and adaptable housing before the housing is built, the bill creates minimal requirements for the construction of new dwellings." 134 Cong. Rec. S10455 (Aug. 1, 1988) (statement of Sen. Kennedy) (emphasis supplied). He provided further elaboration the following day:

      Mr. President basically, what we have to understand is that it is cheaper to make housing available and accessible to the handicapped when it is being constructed rather than making modifications later on. This deals with future construction in the circumstances covered by the bill.

      As we have pointed out, what does it cost to ensure that a doorway is open for a wheelchair? What does it cost to put light switches at a level that will be available to people in wheelchairs? That is what we are talking about in this particular legislation. It is simple but essential.

      134 Cong. Rec. S10536 (Aug. 2, 1988); 1988 WL 174367, at *44-45 (statement of Sen. Kennedy).(12) As Senator Stafford, another supporter of the bill, succinctly observed, "This bill * * * mandates that only certain basic, uniform features of adaptable design are incorporated in new multifamily housing construction." 134 Cong. Rec. S10549 (Aug. 2, 1988); 1988 WL 174369, at *31 (Cong. Rec.) (statement of Sen. Stafford).

      Such statements reflect the Congressional intent that the features of adaptive design listed in Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the Act are requirements which must be met during construction and are not features to be added later by requests for reasonable accommodations or modifications from persons with disabilities.(13) While it is true that the Act does not define the term "adaptive design," the House Report which accompanied the bill noted that the bill sought to employ a stand of "'adaptable' design" to distinguish it from a standard of "total accessibility," which many builders and designers had come to associate with the term "accessible." House Report, at 26; reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2187. The Report observed that the "adaptable design" standard had been

        developed in recent years by the building industry and by advocates for handicapped individuals to provide usable housing for handicapped persons without necessarily being significantly different from conventional housing. [Subsection 804(f)(3)(C)] sets forth certain features of adaptive design to be incorporated in new multifamily housing construction.

      Id.(14)

    5. HUD's Interpretation of the Act Is Entitled to Deference
    6. As noted earlier (at pp. 4-6), HUD, pursuant to its authority under 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(5)(C) and 3614a, has issued regulations and guidelines implementing the Fair Housing Act. Its regulation at 24 C.F.R. §100.205(c) mirrors the statutory language and requires that covered multifamily dwellings be "designed and constructed" in a manner such that all premises within the covered dwelling units "contain [the enumerated] features of adaptable design." HUD's Accessibility Guidelines are more specific as to how that requirement may be met, and provide that "'[a]daptable dwelling units' * * * means dwelling units that include the features of adaptable design specified in 24 C.F.R. 100.205(c)(2)-(3)." 56 Fed. Reg. at 9499.(15) The Guidelines are "intended to provide a safe harbor for compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act" and "state recommended specifications for each design feature." Id.(16) Nowhere do the HUD regulations or guidelines suggest that a housing provider may meet its obligations under the Act by merely designing, but not constructing, housing with the "features of adaptive design" required under Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii). As noted, the regulation at 24 C.F.R. §100.205(c) requires both the designing and construction of such features. See also, pp. 5 - 6, supra (quoting from preamble to the HUD Guidelines, which note that an "adaptable" dwelling unit is one which has both minimum "accessibility" features -- i.e., accessible environmental controls, usable bathrooms and kitchens -- and "adaptable" structural features -- i.e., reinforced bathroom walls for later installation of grab bars).

      Assuming that this Court concludes that the statutory language is ambiguous, it may not "simply impose its own construction on the statute, as would be necessary in the absence of an administrative interpretation." Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 843 (1984). Rather, where, as here, Congress has expressly delegated to an agency the authority to interpret a statute,

        Congress entrusts to the [agency], rather than to the courts, the primary responsibility for interpreting the statutory term. In exer-cising that responsibility, the agency adopts regulations with legislative effect. A re-viewing court is not free to set aside those regulations simply because it would have interpreted the statute in a different manner.

      Batterton v. Francis, 432 U.S. 416, 424 (1977). Accord: Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v. Cisneros, 52 F.3d 1351, 1358 (6th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, ___U.S.___, 116 S. Ct. 973 (1997) (construing the Fair Housing Act consistent with HUD regulations). "Rather, if the statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue, the question for the court is whether the agency's answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute." Chevron, supra. Accord: Aver v. Robbins, ___ U.S.___, 117 S. Ct. 905, 909 (1997).

      Here, the language of the statute, if not a clear directive (but see pp., 6 - 9, supra), is at least sufficiently pliable to accommodate HUD's interpretation -- an interpretation which, as we noted earlier (at pp. 9- 15), is supported by the legislative history.

    7. CONCLUSION
    8. For these reasons, we request the Court reject a reading of the Fair Housing Act that would limit requiring the features of "adaptive design" set forth in Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(3)(C)(iii), as components of new construction.

    Respectfully submitted,

Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Joan A. Magagna
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

Isabelle M. Thabault
Deputy Chief
Myron S. Lehtman
Attorney
Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202) 514-4738

Lynne A. Battaglia
United States Attorney

Kay Allison
Assistant United States Attorney
101 West Lombard
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 962-4822
Assistant United States Attorney


1 Under the Act, only the ground floor units in buildings consisting of four or more units are covered if the buildings do not have elevators. 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(7).

2 See Plaintiffs' Consolidated Memorandum in Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment as to Liability, and in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pl. Con. Mem."), pp. 1, 3-4. The United States has undertaken no independent factual investigation of plaintiffs' allegations but assumes for purposes this memorandum that the facts are as alleged by them.

3 In May, 1997, plaintiffs moved for summary judgment as to liability. This Court held oral argument in August and took the case under advisement. A few weeks after the argument, BNI again appeared before this Court on a motion to dismiss in another "design and construction" case under the Fair Housing Act, Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. v. Berkus Group Architects, Inc., C.A. No. B- 97-120 (D. Md.). During the course of oral argument in that case, this Court queried BNI's counsel as to the application of Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(3)(C)(iii). The inquiry focused on whether the "features of adaptive design" listed in that provision of the statute must be included as part of the actual construction of dwelling units covered under the Act. See Tr., Hearing, Berkus Group Architects, Inc., supra, pp. 22-26 (Aug. 29, 1997) (copy attached)(Attacment A). Thereafter, plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a supplemental memorandum in support of their motion for summary judgment on the issue raised by this Court in Berkus. On October 23, this Court granted plaintiffs motion. In an accompanying letter to counsel, this Court noted that he had give counsel "a clear impression of uncertainty as to the applicability of the requirements relating to adaptable design under the Act." Letter, Walter E. Black, Jr., Senior Judge, to Rommel counsel (Oct. 23, 1997).

4 Congressional efforts to amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of handicap date back to at least 1979. See e.g., H.R. 2540, 96th Cong., 1st Sess. ("The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1979") (Mar. 1, 1979). While containing such a prohibition and requiring reasonable accommodations, the bill contained no requirements pertaining to new construction. Similar legislative proposals followed during the next decade. See e.g., S. 2040, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. ("The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1986" (Feb. 3, 1986); S. 558, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. (Feb. 19, 1987). Requirements pertaining to new construction first appeared in 1988 as a committee amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 1158, the bill which was essentially the Act passed by Congress. See H.R. 1158, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. (May 4, 1988). In reporting H.R. 1158, the Report of the House Judiciary Committee which accompanied the bill summarized legislative efforts to amend the Act. See H.R. Rep. No. 100-711, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. 14-15 (1988), reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2173, 2175-76 ("House Report").

5 The regulation implementing Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the Act is stated in language virtually the same as the statute. 24 C.F.R. §100.205(c)(3).

6 These Guidelines were published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 24 C.F.R. Ch. 1, Subch. A, App. II (see also 56 Fed. Reg. 9499 (Mar. 6, 1991)), but removed on February 29, 1996, in response to the President's "Regulatory Reinvention Initiative." 61 Fed. Reg. 7942 (February 29, 1996). As stated in the notice, the Guidelines and related materials are now available directly from HUD.

7. One definition of "contain" is "to have within." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, 1990). As that source notes, "CONTAIN implies the actual presence of a specified substance or quantity within something."

8 For instance, it is far less expensive to design and construct hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens with adequate space for a person in a wheelchair to maneuver than to engage in after-the-fact rearranging of walls and fixtures.

9 The Act recognizes that some persons with disabilities may need additional adjustments to their premises beyond that provided by the statutory threshold. The expense of such modifications are not, however, to be borne by the housing provider. Section 3604(f)(3)(A) provides that discrimination includes
a refusal to permit, at the expense of the handicapped person, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such person if such modifications may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises....
42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(A). Failing to require those responsible for the construction of new housing to meet the minimum statutory threshold could result in the imposition of additional costs upon persons with disabilities who desire to live in the housing their choice.

10 Indeed, another provision in the statute supports such an interpretation. Section 804(f)(4) states:
Compliance with the appropriate requirements of the American National Standard for buildings and facilities providing accessibility and usability for physically handicapped people (commonly cited as "ANSI A117.1") suffices to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (3)(C)(iii).
42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(4).

11 Representative Owens had prefaced his remarks by observing that:
barriers built into the architecture -- stairs, narrow doorways, inaccessible bathrooms, and so forth -- prevent persons with disabilities from obtaining access to housing that would otherwise be suitable. This bill for the first time, makes such discrimination on the basis of handicap an unlawful interference with right of all Americans to Fair Housing.
134 Cong. Rec. H4922; 1988 WL 173280, at*74.

12 In speaking against a proposed amendment offered by Senator Humphrey to the bill that would have required only twenty percent of the units of a multi-family complex to be designed and constructed to accommodate mobility-impaired persons, Senator Kennedy rejected the argument that the bill as proposed (and as enacted) would add substantial costs to the construction:

We are talking about very basic and and fundamental accessibility requirements. Where that Senator gets [a] 400 percent [increase] is beyond me. What does it cost to put a light switch at a level where somebody who is in a wheelchair is going to be able to have access? What does it cost when you build a house to have a more open door so a wheelchair can go through it? Again, what is the cost to put a stud in a bathroom? $27. These are minimal costs, Mr. President, for millions of Americans.
* * * We are going to have basic kinds of infrastructure so that those who are handicapped and disabled -- whether they are today, or whether they will be tomorrow -- we are not going to require them, when they go out and break that hip, not to have that accessibility.
134 Cong. Rec. S10539 (Aug. 2, 1988); 1988 WL 174367, at *44-45.

13 One reason for requiring incorporation of the adaptive design features into construction is because of the broad reach of the Act's prohibition against discrimination on the basis of handicap. As the House Report notes:
The Committee intends these provisions to prohibit not only discrimination against the primary purchaser or named lessee, but also to prohibit denials of housing opportunities to applicants because they have children, parents, friends, spouses, roommates, patients, subtenants or other associates who have disabilities.
House Report, at 24, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2185.

14 In so observing, the Report cited to "Adaptable Housing," a publication prepared by Barrier Free Environments, Inc., on behalf of HUD. Id., n.69. That publication contains the following explanation of "adaptable housing" (at p. 13): Permanent accessible features are a required part of an adaptable dwelling. These features include wide doors, no steps at the entrance, switches and controls mounted low, most rooms and spaces located along an accessible route, and other features specified in ANSI A117.1 (1986) and UFAS (1984). The accessible features are important because they make each adaptable unit usable by disabled people without renovation or structural changes such as moving walls and widening or replacing doors. The fixed accessible features built into standard adaptable dwellings provide basic access for mobility impaired people allowing wheelchair users to visit even when the unit is adjusted for non-disabled people.
(Excerpts attached) (Attachment B).

15 Requirements 4-7 of the Guidelines correspond to the "features of adaptive design" set forth in Section 804(f)(3)(C)(iii) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(3)(C)(iii). See 56 Fed. Reg. at 9507-15 (guidelines for requirements 4 - 7) (copy attached) (Attachment C).

16 For instance, the Guidelines provide, inter alia, that "[a]ccessible routes into and through dwelling units would meet section 100.205(c)(3)(i) if: (1) A minimum clear width of 36 inches is provided." 56 Fed. Reg. at 9507.

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Updated August 6, 2015

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