February 21, 2003
HUD LAUNCHES EDUCATION AND OUTREACH PROGRAM TO CREATE MORE BARRIER-FREE HOUSING
Program Educates Building and Design Industries about Accessibility Provisions
of Fair Housing Act
WASHINGTON - A Department of Housing and Urban Development initiative recently announced will allow homebuilders, developers, architects and designers to have access to the latest training and technical guidance on how to comply with accessible design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
HUD has dubbed its comprehensive campaign, which includes formal training, a website and a technical guidance resource center, Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST.
"The education and outreach activities of this project will help to make those in the housing industry more aware of their responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act," said Carolyn Y. Peoples, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. "Housing discrimination contradicts the principles of freedom and opportunity we treasure as Americans."
According to Peoples, the Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST program is intended to educate and inform people about the Act's requirements before design and construction begins, thus avoiding costly retrofitting by builders and increasing housing opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Training is a major component of HUD's efforts. The training curriculum consists of nine modules that can be presented individually or in any combination. The modules include: an overview of the fair housing act accessibility requirements; disability rights laws; enforcement of the act; strategies for compliant kitchens; strategies for compliant bathrooms; common design and construction violations and solutions; accessible routes; and accessible public and common-use areas.
The newly developed website (www.fairhousingfirst.org) contains information about educational and legal materials, best practices, a training and conference calendar, frequently asked questions, and links to related sites.
The Design and Construction Resource Center has experts who can answer questions about legal and technical requirements of Act. The program is being implemented by BearingPoint, Inc. The Center is staffed Monday through Friday, 9 AM - 5 PM (ET).
In addition to the FIRST program, HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is partnering with the International Code Council to provide training and technical assistance to states and other jurisdictions on the benefits of adopting building codes or laws that incorporate standards in compliance with the Act.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.
HUD's housing discrimination hotline is (800) 669-9777.