Adequate housing can be a major issue for people with disabilities, who can face challenges related to accessibility and discrimination. Through technology and advances in design, we now know how to design and build housing that can accommodate residents and visitors with disabilities. Architectural and related guidelines dealing with ramps, doorways, bathrooms, cabinetry and other features allow people with mobility impairments and other physical disabilities to have full access to and to function independently within modern housing. Lifts and other devices enable people to move about their homes. Computerized environmental control units allow for the operation of devices and appliances ranging from doors to kitchen stoves. Coordinated use of assistive technology and personal assistants result in levels of personal autonomy and independence undreamed of only a few years ago.
Below are links with information for owning a home, making a home accessible and more.
National Directory of State Housing Finance Agencies – Housing Finance Agencies offer individuals, families, and businesses a wide range of support and assistance. Click your state to find HFAs and organizations near you that can help you with your housing finance questions and concerns.
Home modifications are changes made to adapt living spaces to meet the needs of people with physical limitations so that they can continue to live independently and safely. These modifications may include adding assistive technology or making structural changes to a home. Modifications can range from something as simple as replacing cabinet doorknobs with pull handles to full-scale construction projects that require installing wheelchair ramps and widening doorways.
Home Remodeling for People with Disabilities: What You Need to Know: by Michael Sledd, originally from Expertise.com.
Making a Home Accessible:
Making Homes Accessible: Assistive Technology and Home Modifications – This resource guide provides information about assistive technology and home modifications. The guide covers definitions; laws and guidelines; initiatives from the Assistive Technology Act grantees; advocacy, financing, modification, and research resources; accreditations; online courses; and a bibliography.
Home Wheelchair Ramp Project – Information on building your own home wheelchair ramp including safety information and ramp specifications, manuals, and videos (for the do-it-yourself types).
Consumer Affairs Stair Lift Resources– This page from Consumer Affairs contains information regarding stairlifts including brand comparisons, stair lift features, and expert stairlift reviews. Additionally, it features an option which allows users to answer seven questions and get matched with a stair lift that meets their needs. Please be advised that you are required to enter your phone number and email address to get your results from the matching questionnaire.
National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification – The Center’s mission is to make supportive housing and home modification a more integral component of successful aging, long-term care, preventive health, and the development of elder-friendly communities. The Center offers a vision for the future as well as practical strategies and materials for policymakers, practitioners, consumers, manufacturers, suppliers, and researchers.
Owning a Home:
Homeownership has never been seriously perceived as a possible housing solution for people with disabilities. It is a problem that has developed over decades—a problem that goes beyond financial concerns to include attitudes, ignorance, myths and stereotypes about where and how people with disabilities can and should live.
Yet, for many people with disabilities, the motivation to own a home is powerful. Homeownership offers control and choice in where and how they live. It provides something of value on which to build financial stability. It is a much preferred alternative to nursing homes, institutions and other restrictive settings that are too often the only other housing options. In their own homes, people with disabilities can put down roots and carry on with their lives, secure in the knowledge that their housing needs are taken care of for the long term.
Recently, more attention has been given to people with disabilities throughout the home-buying process, and financial assistance has become more accessible to them. Down payment and closing cost assistance is vital to helping most consumers with disabilities clear a major obstacle to purchasing a home– having enough money to pay the down payment and closing costs.
Financial assistance is also necessary for people with disabilities to modify their home according to their needs. A seller may be willing to address the necessary repairs but additional accessibility modifications may be required. These modifications can be costly and generally unaffordable to people with disabilities and a low-income. With the help of HOME, CDBG, volunteers, partnerships with home improvement centers, and partnerships with other organizations or local governments, people with disabilities are able to receive the loan products and services necessary to modify their home.
Today, more people with disabilities are becoming homeowners, and more communities are starting to realize the importance of this long overlooked segment of the housing market.
Home of Your Own Guide (PDF) – A Home of Your Own Guide walks prospective home owners through the complex process of buying a home, from the initial decision to make the purchase, through the steps for acquiring a mortgage, and finally, to life as a homeowner. The new guide introduces a “person centered approach” to homeownership, which places people with disabilities at the center of the decision-making process on issues affecting their personal lives and living situations.