By Victoria Lanteigne, Corporate Partnerships and Training Manager
In 2008, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) started a pilot program with the goal of increasing the number of residential housing units and properties in the United States that are accessible to persons with disabilities. The program sought to change the way that multifamily housing development, construction, and management companies approached accessibility. All too often, the ERC had found, the approach to accessibility was reactive. Apartment and condo developers and builders would construct multi-million dollar complexes, only to find themselves spending incredibly large sums to remove barriers to accessibility, after the fact.
Since its founding, the ERC’s unique Multifamily Housing Resource Program (MHRP) has offered a new approach to accessibility issues. The MHRP focuses on proactively ensuring that multifamily units and complexes comply with federal and local regulations to promote accessibility for all prospective tenants. Through a variety of resources, the MHRP helps its members enhance compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other applicable state and local laws.
After five years of work, the MHRP has grown exponentially to 18 members, including developers representing more than 600,000 apartments and condominiums across the country, architectural design and accessibility firms, and accessibility-related product and service vendors. These industry leaders serve as models for the housing industry, and give many of the nation’s 57 million individuals with disabilities the opportunity to live where they choose. (more…)