This week the Department of Local Affairs (DORA) Civil Rights Division offered one of four free lectures on Fair Housing, Accessibility and Reasonable Accommodations. The lecture is given by DORA’s fair housing expert, Jennifer McPherson, she covers the local, state and federal fair housing regulations.
This is a must see for architects, real estate agents, housing property managers, and owners of rental housing. In addition to the free lecture DORA provides stacks of detailed brochures and other materials you can take and hand out at your office to build awareness.
The material covered in this presentation includes an overview of the many levels of fair housing regulations, how they overlap and how to be sure you comply. Fair Housing regulations cover a broad range of classes and vary at the Federal, State and Local level.
Federal Law requires that one can not discriminate based on:
- Handicap (disabilities)
- Familial Status
- National Origin
Colorado State Law adds:
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
Local Ordinances (City and County of Denver) add yet again:
- Military Status
- Gender Variance
Keeping in mind that fair housing covers many different protected classes the most common issue for architects is disability. Many of the discussions I have had with clients that must provide accessibility in their buildings revolve around the loss of square footage in a living room or bedroom due to more space required in bathrooms and kitchens. Of course, if these requirements are carried out within the building it could result in very costly alterations in the future in order to comply. During this lecture you are given clear ideas of how to communicate why these requirements are necessary.
Educating architects, real estate agents, developers and owners on this topic is one way to ensure we are preventing future noncompliance. This key for the DORA Civil Rights Division because currently the division is a reactionary or complaint-driven agency. Meaning, the division needs to improve its education and outreach to transform into a more preventative department.
The more we can educate our clients the more we can provide fair housing! The next FREE lecture is June 1st 9:30 am-11:30 am offered at 1560 Broadway, Conference Room 110 B (first floor), Denver. The following two lectures are offered September 7, 2010, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and November 2, 2010, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at the same location.
Another helpful organization to check out is Fair Housing Accessibility First. This site gives you a detailed look at design and construction requirements with regard to accessibility.