Physical access in urban public housing facilities

Katherine Froehlich-Grobe, Ph.D., Gail Regan, Ph.D., P.T., Jacqueline Y. Reese-Smith, M.A., Katie M. Heinrich, Ph.D., Rebecca E. Lee, Ph.D.

Disability and Health Journal, January 2008 Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 25–29




Public housing facilities play an important role in housing individuals with physical disabilities, including older adults, who are unable to afford private housing. This study assessed general features of physical access in the common use areas of 14 federally subsidized, urban public housing facilities.


Fourteen public housing facilities were assessed by trained field assessors for 6 features of accessibility.


Most housing facilities had at least 1 parking space designated with a vertical sign (86%), an entrance that was level or had a ramp (86%), and a 32-inch wide exterior door (71%). Half (50%) had a public restroom designated by signage as accessible, and most of these bathrooms had 32-inch-wide doorways and at least 1 grab bar near the toilet (86%). Most housing managers were able to identify building modifications that had been made to satisfy accessibility regulations.


The results suggest that relatively large proportions (14%-29%) of federally funded housing facilities are not complying with federal regulations. Better education and compliance are needed to ensure access for all in public housing facilities.