Lack of Affordability – Accessible Housing a Problem for Persons with Disabilities

A huge problem for people with disabilities is that they are not able to access affordable housing. Roughly 54 million Americans have at least one disability, comprising the biggest minority group in the state.

According to Federal guidelines, affordable housing means total costs (i.e. rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance and taxes) do not go beyond 30 percent of a renter’s or homeowner’s household income.

At present, persons who are qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in California receive $854.40 every month and $1,444.20 for couples. Based on the Federal guidelines, persons living alone on SSI must not pay over $256.32 every month and couples must not pay over $433.26. Taking this into consideration, it seems impossible for persons with disabilities to access affordable housing and a lot of them will be on waiting lists.

In addition to problems with affordability, another problem is accessibility. Many California communities are attempting to solve the problem of accessibility by, for instance, implementing the Universal Design Model Ordinance. This ordinance provides more opportunities for persons with disabilities, whether temporary, developing or permanent, to age in place.

Experts in the industry say that education will make a significant difference. People must be made informed about the programs and agencies that are working together with lenders, housing authorities and service providers in making new housing alternatives, like smart-home technology. Moreover, experts advise that persons with disabilities talk to elected leaders regarding their real-life experiences and the need for laws that enhance affordability and accessibility.

Elsa Quesada, chair of the California State Independent Living Council, said that they are committed to support persons with disabilities and providing information, training and education to help them. In partnership with the California State Department of Rehabilitation, the California State Independent Living Council prepares and oversees the State Plan for Independent Living. They are continuously asking for public feedback in order to guarantee that services reached persons with disabilities.

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