Universal Design and Visitability
While the Fair Housing Act requires accessible features in multifamily residential construction, the millions of single-family homes built in neighborhoods and subdivisions are typically built with stairs and other physical barriers to approximately 25% of Americans living with a disability (40% for those over 65). Modifying these new homes to create access can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
This is essentially a tax or surcharge on disability for homebuyers or tenants, with potential fair housing implications for developers, builders and communities.
Sarasota County, Florida is the latest jurisdiction to appreciate the importance of Visitability, which involves basic Universal Design features, such as at least one zero-step entry and an accessible route to a ground-floor bathroom.
This doesn’t just save money and create independent living for those with temporary or permanent mobility limitations; it can save taxpayers more than $30,000/year for each Medicaid-eligible person who can avoid a nursing home or other institution.
It also means higher productivity and more inclusive neighborhoods, since a neighborhood pot-luck invitation doesn’t involve barriers. It supports community and economic resilience when households have more disposable income to invest in taxable goods and services.
It’s called planning ahead.
See an earlier post and details here: Inclusive Design Gets Customers in the Door