Move in or Modify: Finding a Suitable Property for a Disabled Individual
If you’re a disabled person looking for a new home, you’ve probably discovered that locating a suitable house isn’t easy. Unfortunately, the real estate market hasn’t quite caught up with the need for accessible housing. Realtors can help you find single-story homes and properties with layouts adaptable to the needs of disabled individuals, but locating a house that’s been properly fitted out for a disabled owner can be a real challenge. It takes a lot of searching and time on the internet, but you can find a home that’s livable and can be adapted to meet your needs.
Agencies and Organizations
However, there are agencies and organizations that can help disabled people find properties. Some realtors find organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society helpful in locating housing for their disabled clients. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program provides loans and grants for people in rural areas aimed at helping them make the kind of home modifications needed to make accessible housing convenient and safe. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Homeownership Voucher program allows families in the Housing Choice Voucher program to purchase a home and receive monthly aid for homeownership expenses by using their voucher.
If you’re a veteran with a disability, the Department of Veteran Affairs may be able to help with funding for home modifications. And it’s always worthwhile checking with your state government to see if a disability-related service agency can help you find housing or provide financial assistance. The federal government has established several laws and administrations for the sole purpose of protecting your rights as a disabled homebuyer regardless of your disability.
While there isn’t an abundance of websites with robust search resources, Barrier Free Home allows you to specify geographical location, price, and other factors in finding accessible homes. The results are helpful, with specifics about each property, including square footage, layout, number of rooms, and features of note, such as kitchen countertops and bathroom flooring. You’ll spend a lot of time on real estate websites in your region, but it’s important to stay on top of it and keep checking, as you never know when the ideal property will become available. Even if there isn’t a real estate agent in your area experienced with accessible housing, there’s probably an agent who can find a single-story structure with modification possibilities.
Adequate space is key in any accessible home. A house with doorways at least 36 inches wide is optimal, which is a modification a professional contractor can help you with. Make sure hallways are large enough (36 inches wide) to accommodate a wheelchair and that bathrooms have enough square footage for maneuverability. Bear in mind that bathrooms are key because safety is such a priority in that part of the house. Grab rails in the shower (preferably a roll-in shower) and alongside the toilet are essential for safety, and a toilet bowl that’s between 17 to 19 inches off the floor is another important safety feature. Transitions between rooms should be smooth, with no thick carpeting outside doorways. Make sure there’s plentiful lighting, especially in areas with little or no natural light -- consider installing sensor-controlled lights in hallways.
Make the most of your options through government-assistance programs in locating an accessible home or modifying one that can be made accessible. Make extensive use of your realtor in finding houses that have potential but lack certain features. And be patient about checking listings in your area.
Article provided by Medina at Accessiville.org.
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