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The New FHA Safe Harbors: FAQs

word bubbles with a question mark and exclamation point insideNow that HUD has adopted the 2009 edition of the ICC A117.1 Standard and the 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018 editions of the IBC as additional safe harbors that can be used to demonstrate compliance with the design and construction requirements of the FHA, what changes? What do designers need to know before moving forward with selecting their chosen safe harbor? Here are a few of the most common questions that our Accessibility Team has been asked about the use of the new safe harbors since they became effective on March 8, 2021:

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The New HUD-approved FHA Safe Harbors

Houses in a rowEven though the Fair Housing Act (FHA) has been in effect for more than 30 years, owners, developers, architects and others are still cited for noncompliance with the FHA’s seven design and construction requirements. Based on our experience, a major contributing factor to this continued noncompliance is the common misconception that following the accessibility requirements of a building code (e.g., current editions of The International Building Code) will result in compliance with the FHA. To ensure compliance with the design and construction requirements of the FHA, it is important to incorporate one of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved safe harbors into the design of a multifamily development. The long-standing list of safe harbors has not been updated in nearly 14 years, when the 2003 edition of the ICC A117.1 Standard was approved by HUD. Before that, the 2006 edition of the International Building Code was the latest version of the code to be HUD- approved as meeting the design and construction requirements of the Act. As a result, while the building codes have continued to progress, HUD has lagged behind – until now.

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HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Final Event Results & Gallery

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Announcing the Winners of the 2016 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Competition

First Place: University of Texas at Austin
Runner-Up: University of Maryland

Congratulations to the IAH winners, and to all the members of the final four teams on their outstanding solutions! (more…)

HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Update – Santa Barbara Site Visit

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On March 9, the four finalist teams from this year’s HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition (IAH) visited the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, California (HACSB) project site. Multi-disciplinary teams of graduate students are competing to develop a holistic solution that would allow the HACSB to meet its goal of offering safe and sustainable affordable housing to area residents. Teams are given the option of rehabilitating the current structure, or demolishing and rebuilding. The winning project proposal will thoroughly address design, community development, and finance in their solution.

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Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition Results in Bicoastal Winners

On April 21st the four finalist teams from the 2015 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Student Design and Planning Competition gathered at the HUD headquarters in Washington, DC to take part in the Final Four Jury and Awards Presentation (you can read more about the competition here). There, the graduate student teams presented their final submissions to the jury and audience for either the rehabilitation or redevelopment of Bayou Towers, a 300-unit residential high-rise that is home to over 500 senior citizens of the Houma-Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana.

Wayne Thibodeaux

Wayne Thibodeaux, Executive Director of the Houma Terrebonne Housing Authority speaking at HUD in Washington, DC.

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HUD’s 2015 IAH Graduate Student Design Competition: SWA Supported

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HUD’s 2015 Innovation in Affordable Housing student design and planning competition has hit full stride. Building on its successful inaugural run in 2014, this year’s competition has university representation from over 20 states. Strategic teams of 3-5 graduate students and a faculty advisor, primarily from architecture, urban planning, real estate, business, and environmental engineering programs, are challenged with redesigning a 300-unit senior housing property for the Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority (HTHA). Competitors will craft actionable solutions that consider economic, social, and ecologic issues unique to the region’s affordable senior housing sector. Successful projects will address needs of senior residents (quality of life), site and building codes, finance strategies (incl. leveraging partnerships), integrated energy efficiency technology, and community connectivity. Following a rigorous review process, select finalists will travel to Houma, LA in March for a site-visit intended to prepare competitors for refining their final submission. The winning entry will be chosen by a judging panel of industry thought-leaders, and awarded $20,000 at a ceremony in Washington, DC ($10,000 to the runner-up).

Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA) recognizes the critical need for global availability of quality, affordable housing. Our support of HUD’s competition will advance studies in this emerging market by initiating a new generation of student-professionals into the industry. SWA fulfilled a lead role in competition development, outlining the competitive structure, project submission requirements and guidelines, and final judging criteria. Additionally, SWA spearheaded all marketing efforts for the competition, including a robust registration outreach campaign consisting of email blasts, phone communication, social media, and direct mailing. Work on the IAH competition demonstrates the firm’s continued support of student and professional competitions, adding to past programming efforts with the SBIC’s Beyond Green™ High Performance Building Awards and the Housing Authority of Norwalk’s Affordable Housing Design Competition. The firm’s involvement reinforces SWA’s commitment to progressing innovation in high performance building practices, and validates SWA’s reputation as an industry authority on sustainable multifamily building science.

Visit the the #IAH2015 website here: bit.ly/IAH2015