In May of 2008, Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) brought together a committee to respond to the need for accessible, affordable housing for persons with disabilities throughout Massachusetts. Of the existing barriers to the development of more accessible, affordable housing in Massachusetts, of which there are many, the CHAPA committee identified the lack of substantial equivalency between the required state and federal codes for accessible housing to be foremost.
In October of 2008, CHAPA engaged Chicago firm, LCM Architects to assist the committee in conducting an evaluation of substantial equivalency between the state access code, Massachusetts Architectural Access Board Regulations (MAABR/521 CMR), and Federal access standards including the Fair Housing Act Design Manual (FHA DM- 1998), the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS-1988) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design (ADAAG-1994). Through the evaluation process, LCM Architects (LCM) identified the sections of the MAAB Rules and Regulations where the state code differs significantly from the above referenced Federal codes. To the extent that such differences materially affect accessibility and the federal standard provides a higher degree of accessibility, LCM has recommended the technical changes and/or specific steps that must be incorporated into MAAB to achieve substantial equivalency.