According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 61 million adults have a disability. Unfortunately, people with physical disabilities face multiple barriers to adequate housing. For this growing segment of the population, accessible homes are crucial for quality of life. Without a fully accessible home, a person with limited mobility may be unable to access essential rooms (e.g. bathroom, kitchen) and/or leave the home without assistance from others. Such lack of access prevents individuals from being able to live independently.
According to a 2015 HUD report, less than 1% of U.S. homes are wheelchair accessible and even fewer are both affordable and accessible. That almost 25% of Marylanders with mobility impairments (37,400 persons) are living in poverty ensures that their housing options are extremely limited. Although they may qualify for affordable housing programs, the need for accessible units far outweighs the supply. Furthermore, although housing providers are required by law to provide “reasonable accommodations,” such accommodations are typically made at the resident’s expense and are unaffordable for most.
This lack of affordable, accessible homes has serious consequences for people with physical disabilities, including homelessness, further deterioration of both physical and mental health, and isolation from their communities. The objective of the Affordable Accessible Housing Now! campaign is to both increase public awareness of the housing crisis facing individuals with physical disabilities and amplify the voices of those who badly need, but do not have access to, accessible homes.
To bring about changes in legislation, it is crucial that elected officials with the power to make these changes both believe in the value of these changes and that the voting public supports such decisions. To these ends, the Affordable Accessible Housing Now! campaign aims to not only increase public awareness, but also to stress the importance of taking action to bring about change. Sending letters, making phone calls, and setting up meetings with state and local legislators in which voters explain why this issue is important will produce a significant impact. Tens of thousands of Marylanders with physical disabilities need affordable, accessible housing now. All of us are potentially only an injury or diagnosis away from needing such housing. Please contact your legislators today and get involved in the campaign!
We are calling upon legislators to enact policy that will increase affordable, accessible housing options for all individuals with disabilities, both by fully funding and expanding existing programs designed to create affordable housing (such as the Section 811 Program) and by creating new legislation that would significantly decrease the gap between the number of people with disabilities in need of accessible homes and those who are able to afford them. Changes in current legislation could potentially require real estate developers to install accessible features in a fixed percentage of all new multi-family developments, and provide funds for modifying existing homes in order to make them accessible.