More Support for Visitable Construction!

Universal Design and Visitability

Sarasota County, Florida, provides recognition and some benefits to builders and homeowners who create housing that’s accessible for people of all abilities

While the Fair Housing Act requires accessible features in multifamily residential construction, the millions of single-family homes built in neighborhoods and subdivisions are typically built with stairs and other physical barriers to approximately 25% of Americans living with a disability (40% for those over 65). Modifying these new homes to create access can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

This is essentially a tax or surcharge on disability for homebuyers or tenants, with potential fair housing implications for developers, builders and communities.

Sarasota County, Florida is the latest jurisdiction to appreciate the importance of Visitability, which involves basic Universal Design features, such as at least one zero-step entry and an accessible route to a ground-floor bathroom.

This doesn’t just save money and create independent living for those with temporary or permanent mobility limitations; it can save taxpayers more than $30,000/year for each Medicaid-eligible person who can avoid a nursing home or other institution.

It also means higher productivity and more inclusive neighborhoods, since a neighborhood pot-luck invitation doesn’t involve barriers. It supports community and economic resilience when households have more disposable income to invest in taxable goods and services.

It’s called planning ahead.

See an earlier post and details here: Inclusive Design Gets Customers in the Door

Idaho Fair Housing Forum re-boot set for October, 2021

10.21.2021 Update—review video of the 10.20.2021 discussion https://youtu.be/Hezy2erZlHI


Entitlement communities and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association are preparing to re-engage the Idaho Fair Housing Forum. We’re reaching out to long-time and new partners to revive the legacy of productive collaboration among Idaho stakeholders.

  • When October 20, 2021 | 10am to 11am MDT
  • Where Zoom link via email invitation

The Idaho Fair Housing Forum was created in 2003 through the initiative of Brian Dale, then a Community Builder with HUD’s Idaho State Field Office. The collaborative effort helped re-start and improve dialogue among housing providers, public and private sector partners, and fair housing advocates.

As Facilitator, Brian’s goal was to create a ‘safe space,’ where every stakeholder could exchange ideas, ask questions and seek collaborative solutions that reduced Fair Housing Act violations through better communication, thereby reducing the net cost of housing. And to a large extent, it worked.

Three HUD staff pose together, on the left, Kristina Miller, seated on a powered scooter in the center is Brian Dale, and at right is Michael Look waring a suit and tie

Kristina Miller – HUD/Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity; Brian Dale – State Director, Idaho Field Office; and Michael Look, Region X Deputy Regional Administrator

The original Forum included a diverse mix of stakeholders. For over 15 years the group met regularly and pooled our resources to create innovative outreach materials, including annual Fair Housing Month events, calendars, and long-running campaigns.

Fast forward to 2020, and Brian Dale is now the State Director of HUD’s Idaho Field Office. Several factors—including a pandemic—led to an extended hiatus, but key partners are committed to  working together toward shared goals with new collaborative leadership.

The goal is still the same…to create a safe and respectful space to engage, exchange ideas and work to increase fair housing awareness.

Stay tuned for updates!

Fair Housing Fall | Good Neighbors + Fair Housing = Strong Communities

Idaho Fair Housing Forum partners are breathing new life into the ‘Good Neighbors + Fair Housing = Strong Communities campaign. This joint effort among Treasure Valley entitlement communities and IHFA includes radio and television spots along with evergreen posters that remind everyone that fair housing choice benefits everyone.

The initial campaign aimed to create a simple referral option through the Idaho 2-1-1 Care Line. The 2-1-1 staff and management developed a protocol to track and refer calls or complaints.

In September you will be able to find our cities sharing the importance of Fair Housing  through various radio and local advertising channels. If you would like to help amplify this message, please feel free to use the poster below.

Campaign posters available in English and Spanish

See this previous post for links to audio and video PSAs.

The group is also working to jump-start the regular Forum discussions; more on this in another post!

Fair Housing Means Access and Accommodation

The June 22, 2021 Fair Housing webinar focused on fair housing considerations for people with disabilities. Several key stakeholders involved in disability rights and advocacy participated in the discussion of fair housing protections in light of the current housing crisis, which impacts people with disabilities and other protected classes much harder that it does the general population.

One question came up in the follow-up discussion:

What is the statute of limitations on filing a fair housing complaint? HUD’s position:

FHEO begins its complaint investigation process shortly after receiving a complaint. You must file your complaint within one year of the last date of the alleged discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. Other civil rights authorities allow for complaints to be filed after one year for good cause, but FHEO recommends filing as soon as possible.

The group agreed that those in the areas of housing and community development would benefit from a more inclusive planning and design process that engages people with disabilities to inform strategies that make communities more livable and affordable to everyone.

Links to session materials and referenced resources: