Accessible Design in Public Housing: NYCHA Staff Training Program

Version 4.0 July 9, 2001

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Federal Laws and Regulations and Public Housing
1.  Laws and Regulations

There are several Federal laws that apply to public housing:

  • The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA) covers all buildings built with Federal funds. Since the Federal government provides financing to public housing authorities, this Act covers all public housing constructed since 1968.

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 covers all programs of local government that receive funds from Federal sources.

  • The Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988 cover all newly constructed multifamily housing built for first occupancy on March 31, 1991 or later.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title 2 covers all programs of local government that receive funds from Federal Sources

In addition to Federal laws, New York City has its own ordinance, Local Law 58, that applies to all NYCHA buildings as well. A general rule in code enforcement is that the most stringent standard applies. In the case of Local Law 58, the Federal rules are more stringent so that the Local Law is not an issue in design of NYCHA housing and therefore not discussed further here. However, there could be difficulties with the interpretations of the laws.  This problem is a particular concern with respect to negotiated alternatives to UFAS that NYCHA has worked out with HUD (see Existing Buildings section).

Each of these laws references standards or guidelines that must be followed in design and construction. To understand the complex and overlapping rules, it is useful to discuss new construction and existing buildings separately. There are significant differences in the application of laws with regard to whether a building is already existing or is new construction. Thus, in the next two sections, these two conditions are treated separately.