Making More Homes More Accessible To People With Disabilities

a wheelchair person borne up the side of a highrise by a handful of balloons
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We need more achievable & workable housing solutions for people with disabilities.

Two of the links below are about housing projects that are under construction in America. A non-profit called The Kelsey is behind both of them.

The Kelsey is dedicated to improving living conditions for people with disabilities. The two projects will provide affordable housing that is located close to important amenities like public transit, work, shopping and schools. The homes range in size from bachelor units to two bedrooms. The buildings are designed to provide housing for people with disabilities and people who do not have disabilities.

Both projects were designed using a checklist that The Kelsey has developed to create accessible housing successfully. The checklist specifies that people with disabilities will be involved in the design and construction of the homes. After moving in, ongoing supports will facilitate service access and help neighbours to get to know each other. These are building blocks for everyone to live independently. There’s a hope that the people who will live in the buildings will be part of an informal support system for each other.

The Kelsey’s home page includes a video with staff from the organization talking about the design principles and touring a building under construction. Their enthusiasm and pride in their work is inspiring.

Without taking away from The Kelsey’s achievements in new buildings, though, we need to come to grips with just how much we need accessible housing. According to counts in the United States one in four people lives with some kind of disability.

This situation is not exclusive to the United States. Building codes have historically ignored disability. Current codes aren’t much better. It means there’s a huge stock of existing housing that could be modified to work better for people with disabilities. For people who can’t get up to the second floor in their home, or get into the bathroom to bathe their children, modifications would make a world of difference.

It will also take money. Where will it come from? This brings us to Graham Findlay, a disability rights activist in Wales. Findlay is calling for a program that combines climate change and accessibility goals. He reasons that doing an energy retrofit and accessibility modifications at the same time will be less expensive than doing them separately. Try: A ‘Green’ Opportunity To Make Homes Accessible

As well as building housing, The Kelsey advocates to governments for policy changes that will make communities universally acceptable. With the US government getting behind energy retrofit programs, Findlay’s activism focused on Wales might generate some interest in the United States.

We shouldn’t leave this issue without facing the fact that for the most part, people with disabilities are much more likely to have very low incomes than people without disabilities. This points to the need for housing to be accessible and deeply affordable permanently. Both The Kelsey and Graham Findlay could be inspirations to people who are working to achieve housing that is universally accessible and affordable in other countries.

To read more about The Kelsey and the two new U.S. housing projects try: Ayer Station and Civic Center