March 19 Section 3 Training Offered in Pocatello

The City of Pocatello’s Neighborhood and Community Services Division is sponsoring a Section 3 Workshop on Monday, March 19 in City Hall. The training is listed on the HUD website as shown in the following paragraph. You can click here or on the link below to register, or contact Cass at 208-234-6188 for more information.

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2011 Analysis of Impediments

Analysis of Impediments (AI)

The 2011 Idaho Analysis of Impediments (AI) is a report commissioned by Idaho Housing and Finance Association and the Idaho Department of Commerce. Work on the analysis and the statewide stakeholder survey was performed by BBC Research and Consulting. The 2011 AI represents Idaho’s most comprehensive and robust study to date, and analyzes policies and procedures involving land-use, lending, investment patterns, and complaint data for the state of Idaho.
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Inclusive Design Gets Customers in the Door

More and more single-family home buyers, builders and designers are recognizing the obvious: we’re all seniors in training (if we’re lucky), and each of us has friends, family members or neighbors with disabilities.

Smart Business Practice. Think of it. What other industry would tell nearly half of its potential customer base, “our products are not for you or your friends and family; we don’t need your business?”

As with most innovation, visitable single-family construction will evolve through a combination of customer demand, builder savvy, and/or regulation. The demand is there, based on the number of folks with mobility impairments who don’t need or want to live in an institution. Baby Boomers are aging, and we (and our parents) prefer the comfort and independence of living in homes that meet our changing needs.

Builders who anticipate these needs will start building and marketing Homes for Life, just as they now build to LEED and “Super Energy Good Cents” standards to attract customers who want to save energy costs. Creative and visionary builders will lead the way to a sustainable housing market, either by acquiring and renovating existing properties or building new homes to Universal Design standards.

Simple, cost-effective construction guidelines. Some building professionals are reluctant to consider ‘one more standard.’ There are also many popular misconceptions about the costs of creating ‘visitability.’

Thankfully, the pros at Concrete Change and elsewhere have researched real-world costs to build or adapt homes, and a set of practical, easy to implement construction guidelines that highlight two basic features:

  1. one zero-step entrance.
  2. doors with 32 inches of clear passage space.
  3. one bathroom on the main floor you can get into in a wheelchair

In most cases, visitability can be achieved by simply specifying 2’10” or wider entry and passage doors.

Medicaid savings. There’s plenty of talk about saving Medicaid costs at the state and federal levels. According to estimates provided by the Idaho State Independent Living Council (SILC) in 2002, the average Medicaid recipient with home-based care saves Medicaid up to $32,000 (by some estimates) every year when compared to institutional care. This doesn’t even account for the quality of life issues and personal independence that come with living in your own home. Those interested in maximizing outcomes from Medicaid investments might consider advocating for housing that is both affordable and accessible.

Demographic changes. Wheelchair users are not all seniors. Wounded warriors, athletes and professionals all want housing that is close to services, retail, recreation and culture and that allows them to live independently. They represent a strong market for well-designed and well-built housing that can be used by anyone, whether they currently have a disability or not.

Access means business. Besides residential construction, small business represents a potential market for contractors with knowledge about accessible design practices. There are thousands of small businesses throughout America that can (and should) be made accessible. Someone has to build and install those ramps, widen doorways, and install grab bars in bathrooms. Even better, there are excellent tax incentives for small businesses to remove barriers.* See more on this at www.rampupidaho.org

Lean more. Here is one example of how we get to the point of equal access and independent living. To add more news, send an email to and type ‘accessible future’ in the subject line. Let’s do it.

Pima County Inclusive Design Ordinance

See also Concrete Change, a national leader is visitable home design and modification

www.visitability.org*

*Note. The former Concrete Change web site contained several helpful resources that are not contained in the current visitability.org site, although a .pdf version of a portion of the original material is available here:

Archived Concrete Change resources (some links are inactive; as those resources are located they will be posted on this page).

Information from the National Association of Home Builders

Home Design Webinar from the AARP

Home For Life, a virtual tour from Remodeling Magazine demonstrating how to create or modify a home for the rest of your life.

Refugees and Fair Housing Law – What every provider should know

One of the many challenges refugees and their sponsoring agencies face is securing decent, safe and affordable housing near public transportation and employment. For some, western housing construction, layout and systems take some getting used to; that’s a cultural and social issue, and can be addressed with case management. Another issue involves credit and background checks required by most, if not all, landlords and property management companies.

Refugees were in fact responsible and successful homeowners in their native country prior to forced relocation, although as mentioned above ‘home’ may not have resembled what we picture in Idaho. They can succeed here as well, and contribute to our communities and economy if given the chance. Every refugee receives temporary cash and/or housing assistance for a few months upon arrival, and are expected to become self-reliant in a few short months. They also receive extensive case management and support from local resettlement agencies to secure employment and adjust to life in their new community.

Fair housing law requires housing providers to treat every applicant equally, and that places a burden on them to document credit, rental and criminal history for each applicant without exception. It is important to know that official refugee status (Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act), provides “immediate lawful status with all the rights and privileges of a U.S. citizen (except the right to vote or work for a government entity.)

Some property managers relying on partial or misleading information about renting to refugees have paid a high price. It’s worth the time to double-check the facts to reduce liability and the resulting legal costs.

Accepting alternate documentation.We all need to expand our concept of ‘documentation’ to remain compliant as this situation evolves. Refugees are brought into this country for resettlement by the U.S. State Department, and extensively vetted for two years or more by the Department of Homeland Security, United Nations Refugee Agency and other law enforcement agencies. Here are some examples of alternate documentation:

Alternate Documentation

To get the facts and contacts regarding renting to refugees, download:

refugees housing brochure

or contact the following agencies:

Agency for New Americans (208) 338-0033
Idaho Office for Refugees (208) 336-4222
International Rescue Committee (208) 344-1792
English Language Center (208) 336-5533

See also useful refugee housing/communications resources at: