Chapter 19: Decent, Safe, and Sanitary (DSS) Standards


Section 1: Definition and Exceptions

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A decent, safe and sanitary (DSS) dwelling is any dwelling that meets applicable housing and occupancy codes. However, if any of the following standards are not met by an applicable code, they will apply, unless waived for good cause by the Federal Highway Administration. The dwelling will have all of the following features:

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  • Be structurally sound, weather-tight, and in good repair. A replacement dwelling may reflect some physical defects and deferred maintenance if the flaws are easily correctable and do not threaten the general fitness, functional condition or habitability of the structure.
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  • Contains a safe electrical wiring system adequate for lighting and other customary electrical devices.
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  • Contains a heating system capable of sustaining a temperature of approximately 70 degrees, except in those areas where local climatic conditions do not require such a system.
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  • Be adequate in size related to the number of rooms and area of living space needed to accommodate the displacee(s). The number of persons occupying each habitable sleeping room will not exceed that permitted by local codes. In absence of local codes, TxDOT will evaluate each situation and determine needs based in accordance with the Uniform Act. It is TxDOT policy that no children of the opposite gender can occupy the same sleeping room if they have reached the age of 12 years at the time of displacement.
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  • There will be a separate, well-lighted and ventilated bathroom that provides privacy to the user and contains a sink, bathtub or shower stall, and a toilet, all in good working order and properly connected to appropriate sources of water and to a sewage drainage system. For a housekeeping dwelling, there will be a kitchen area that contains a fully usable sink, properly connected to potable hot and cold water and sewage drainage system, and adequate space and utility service connections for a stove and refrigerator.
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  • Contains unobstructed exit to safe, open space at ground level. If the replacement dwelling unit is on the second story or above, with access directly from or through a common corridor, the common corridor must have at least two means of egress.
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  • For a displaced person with a disability, be free of any barriers which would prevent reasonable ingress, egress, or use of the dwelling by the displacee. This includes all physical disabilities, not just those attributable to persons who are motion impaired.
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Exceptions to DSS Standards

For extreme hardship or other extenuating circumstances, an exception may be granted to the DSS standards, and the displacee may still qualify for a replacement housing supplement. Requests for these exceptions must be handled individually; be limited to situations beyond the control of the displacee; and must prevent adherence to the standards. Submit requests for such exceptions to the ROW Program Office for further submission to FHWA for approval. Approved exceptions will not affect computation of the replacement housing payment.

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