IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION RELEASES FINAL REPORT ON SURVEY OF by armedman1

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									                                        Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                CONTACT PERSON
December 20, 2007                                    Ralph Rosenberg, 515/242-6537

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION RELEASES FINAL REPORT ON SURVEY OF
HOUSING ACCESSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS IN IOWA

As 2008 approaches, the civil rights community is reflecting on two milestones in civil rights
history: the enactment of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in 1968 and the FHA amendments in
1988 that added civil rights protections for disabled persons. In recognition of these important
anniversaries, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission announces the release of its Final Report on a
summer/fall 2007 survey of FHA compliance in Des Moines area apartments.

In amending the FHA in1988, the U.S. Congress sought to ensure that disabled persons would
not be denied housing by virtue of the fact that available housing included structural barriers.
Thus, the amended Fair Housing Act, supplemented by guidelines set forth by the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, states that any of the following omissions will give rise to a
discrimination claim when a disabled person is unable to use or access housing facilities:
     1. failing to provide at least once accessible building entrance;
     2. providing common and public areas that are unusable by, or inaccessible to, disabled
         persons;
     3. installing doors with less than a 32 inch clear opening;
     4. failing to provide accessible routes into and through dwelling units;
     5. placing environmental controls (i.e., light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, etc.)
         lower than 15 inches from the floor or higher than 48 inches from the floor;
     6. failing to reinforce bathroom walls for future grab bar installations; or
     7. designing and constructing kitchens and bathrooms that are unusable to disabled persons.
The State of Iowa adopted language in its Fair Housing legislation that is substantially equivalent
to its federal counterpart. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is charged with the enforcement of
the Iowa law—through statute—and the federal law—through contract with the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development.

Survey history. --In late summer 2007, the Commission tested compliance with six of the seven
design and construction requirements. The scope of the project was limited to recently
constructed apartment complexes in the Des Moines metro area. The Final Reports reflect visits
to seven complexes that are covered by the state and federal design and construction provisions.
The results of the testing survey are mixed: in some areas, compliance appears to be high; in
others, there is room for improvement to ensure that disabled Iowans have fair access to housing.
The Report highlights each of the six tested requirements and describes patterns of compliance
with each. No identifying information is provided, but those sites that were tested will receive
copies of the Final Report.

This testing project provided the Iowa Civil Rights Commission with insights on compliance
with Fair Housing legislation in Iowa, and identified areas in which disabled persons may still
be limited in housing options due to design and construction barriers. Iowans who believe that
they or a family member or acquaintance have been denied housing due to inaccessibility, or
deprived of the use of inaccessible services are advised to contact the Iowa Civil Rights
Commission. 1-800 457 4416 or go to: http://www.state.ia.us/government/crc/

“For Iowa, for our entire country, 2008 will be a significant year for civil rights,” says Ralph
Rosenberg, Director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission—“We will be celebrating forty years
since the passage of the Fair Housing Act and twenty years since the amendments of the Act to
include disabled persons”. Rosenberg adds, “Testing has proven an important tool for federal,
state, and local agencies to measure compliance with various civil rights laws; and the Supreme
Court has recognized the value of such undertakings.”

								
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