The manual was first published in August, 1996, and this update is intended to provide clear and helpful guidance about ways to design and construct housing which complies with the Fair Housing Act.
The Manual provides direct information about the accessibility requirements of the Act which must be incorporated into the design and construction of multifamily housing covered by the Act. It carries out two statutory responsibilities: (1) to provide a clear statement of what actions on their part will provide them with a "safe harbor"; and (2) to provided guidance in the form of recommendations which, although not binding, meet the Department's obligation to provide technical assistance on alternative accessibility approaches which will comply with the Act, but may exceed its minimal requirements. The latter information allows housing providers to choose among alternatives and also provides persons with disabilities with information on accessible design approaches.
In some cases, differences existed between the Act's accessibility requirements and the non-binding or recommended guidance provided in the manual. We've revised the Manual to clarify what are requirements under the act and what are HUD's technical assistance recommendations. Our staff have completed a full review of the Manual, and the portions describing the requirements are clearly differentiated from the technical assistance recommendations. As a result of this update, the distinctions are now clear, and we have removed an earlier disclaimer.
Readers following the revised manual can rely on it. They will be in compliance with the Act's accessibility provisions if they carry them out. However, it should be noted that when the Manual uses the terms: recommended, preferred, should, or could, or issues italics or text labeled as "recommended," the material involved is provided as a suggestion for accessibility and not a requirement under the Act.
Providing an environment where persons with disabilities can have the same access to, and ability to use, housing that other persons without disabilities enjoy is both a worthwhile goal and the law. HUD is committed to helping those who develop housing to meet the requirements of the law, so that they can reach the goal of providing meaningful access for people with disabilities.