|HUD No. 00-99|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Wednesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||May 10, 2000|
CUOMO SAYS HUD WILL ACCEPT NEW HOUSING ACCESSIBILITY RULES AS "SAFE HARBOR" UNDER REQUIREMENTS OF THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that the Code Requirements for Housing Accessibility (CRHA) will serve as a "safe harbor" for compliance with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
If a builder follows provisions in the CRHA without waivers or exceptions, HUD will view the builder's compliance with the code as an affirmative defense against complaints alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act's accessibility requirements for people with disabilities, Cuomo said. The Secretary made the announcement in a speech to the National Association of Home Builders.
The CRHA was developed by the International Code Council (ICC), with participation by the government at all levels, industry groups and advocates for people with disabilities.
"HUD is committed to increasing housing opportunities for people with disabilities," Cuomo said. "We're also committed to continuing to provide guidance to the housing industry on the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act. Now for the first time, we can show builders, architects, advocates for people with disabilities, and local governments how to develop affordable, accessible housing that conforms to the Fair Housing Act."
Cuomo told the Home Builders that the ICC report will for the first time give builders in clear building code language, guidance on how to build housing that meets the standards of the Fair Housing Act. It takes HUD's guidelines and puts them in a place where builders go for such guidance - building codes. HUD worked closely with ICC in preparing the report over the last several months, and as a result can verify that it can serve as a "safe harbor" for builders in meeting standards of the Act.
HUD also prepared a special appendix to ICC's report that reviews an analysis prepared by the National Association of Home Builders identifying five areas where the ICC code exceeds the requirements for meeting the Fair Housing Act. In the appendix, HUD confirms that these areas do in fact exceed the minimum required. This means that local government jurisdictions adopting the CRHA code modified in accordance with HUD's analysis will still be in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.