Shelterforce, October 3, 2023, Which U.S. Laws Require Accessibility In Housing—And How Well Do They Do?
Section 504 says that in any housing development that receives federal funds, at least 5 percent of the units must be accessible for people with physical or mobility disabilities and 2 percent accessible for people with vision or hearing disabilities. In addition, since 1988, the Fair Housing Act has mandated a lower level of accessibility in all new multifamily housing with elevators and all ground-floor units in walk-up buildings, whether privately or publicly funded.
Section 504 is the federal government’s main tool for creating affordable, accessible housing, but activists across the country say local and federal officials enforce it only spottily, and developers and housing providers widely ignore its requirements.
“It’s a national outrage, the way this whole thing has just kind of been treated as a cutesy, little side thing that you don’t really have to pay attention to,” says Stephanie Thomas, board president at Accessible Housing Austin! and a member of ADAPT, a national disability rights organization.