If your adult child with disabilities has expressed the desire to live independently, or you notice they're ready to make this change, you probably have loads of questions and concerns regarding housing options for people with disabilities.
When looking for a place, you should keep in mind the structure of the building and the apartment/house itself to ensure they can move and do their daily activities without limitations.
In this article, we share essential information about what you should look for in housing for people with disabilities, as well as excellent and accessible housing for them.
The Struggle of Finding Housing for People With Disabilities
People with disabilities often face unique challenges when it comes to finding housing that is both accessible and affordable. Many people with disabilities require special accommodations in order to live safely and comfortably, and these accommodations can be expensive to install or modify. Additionally, some landlords may be unwilling to rent to people with disabilities, or they may charge higher rent prices to cover the cost of any necessary modifications.
It's also true that some accessible housing options may be located in older buildings that may not meet current building codes or standards, which can present additional safety risks. This can be particularly concerning for people with disabilities, who may be more vulnerable in the event of an emergency.
To address these challenges, it's important for people with disabilities to be proactive in searching for housing and to seek out resources and support as needed. There are many organizations and agencies that provide housing assistance and support for people with disabilities, and these can be a valuable resource for anyone looking for accessible and affordable housing.
Things To Have In Mind When Looking For Housing For People With Developmental Disabilities
Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions that can affect a person's physical, cognitive, and/or social abilities. These disabilities can be present from birth or may occur later in life, and they can range from mild to severe. Some examples of developmental disabilities include:
- Intellectual disability: This is a condition that affects a person's cognitive abilities, including their ability to learn, reason, and make decisions.
- Autism: This is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others.
- Down syndrome: This is a genetic disorder that causes physical and cognitive abnormalities.
- Cerebral palsy: This is a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone, often due to brain damage that occurs before or during birth.
- Spinal cord injury: This is a type of injury that can cause paralysis and other physical and cognitive challenges.
Developmental disabilities can alter a person's abilities in various ways and can make it more challenging for them to perform certain tasks or participate fully in their community. However, with the right support and accommodations, people with developmental disabilities can lead fulfilling, independent and meaningful lives.
It's completely normal to have lots of questions when it comes to finding housing options for people with disabilities. It can be a complex and often overwhelming process, as there are many different factors to consider and a wide range of options available. That's why it's important to do your research and gather as much information as possible to help you make informed decisions.
In addition to the physical modifications that can be made to a home to make it more accessible, there are also other factors to consider when looking for housing options for people with disabilities. Some things to consider might include:
- Location: Is the home located in a neighborhood that is accessible and convenient for people with disabilities? Is it near public transportation, stores, and other amenities?
- Cost: Can you afford the rent or mortgage payments on the home? Are there any financial assistance programs or resources available to help with the cost of housing?
- Size and layout: Does the home have enough space to meet the needs of the person with disabilities? Is the layout of the home suitable for someone using a wheelchair or other mobility device?
- Accessibility features: Does the home have features like ramps, handrails, and accessible bathrooms that can make it easier for someone with disabilities to live independently?
Making a home more accessible and suitable for people with disabilities can be very beneficial, as it can help to increase independence and allow people with disabilities to live more independently. By making certain modifications to the home and adapting the environment to meet the needs of people with disabilities, it can be possible for them to perform daily living tasks more easily and to participate more fully in their community.
There are many different factors to consider when making a home wheelchair accessible or more suitable for people with mobility challenges. Some of the things you may want to consider include:
- Open floor plans: Having an open floor plan can make it easier to move around with a wheelchair or walker, as it allows for more space to maneuver.
- Handrails: Installing handrails on both sides of stairways and in other areas of the home can provide additional support and stability for people using mobility devices.
- Ramps: If there are steps leading to the entrance of the home, installing a ramp can make it easier to access the home with a wheelchair or walker.
- Single level floor plans: Having all the living spaces on one level can be more convenient for people using mobility devices, as it eliminates the need to navigate stairs.
- Proper lighting: Adequate lighting is important for people with mobility challenges, as it can help to reduce the risk of falls.
- Replacing doorknobs with levers or push/pull bars: Doorknobs can be difficult for people with mobility challenges to grip and turn. Replacing doorknobs with lever-style handles or push/pull bars can make it easier to open and close doors.
These are just a few examples of the types of modifications that can be helpful for people with disabilities. The specific changes that are necessary will depend on the individual's needs and abilities.
Analyze The Structure Of the Building
It doesn't matter if you're looking at a house, apartment, or any other type of building; analyzing its structure is fundamental to ensure your loved one can get in and out on their own without difficulties.
For example, if a wheelchair or walker needs to be used, consider asking yourself these questions:
- Can it easily enter and leave the building? If not, determine whether you can remodel the space (if it's yours) or if it's best to look for another one.
- Can it pass through doors and hallways? A doorway needs to be a minimum of 32 inches to be considered wheelchair-accessible.
If you have the option to make some structural changes to the space, you might want to hire a contractor to ensure all measurements are within the law and that everything is done properly.
If you don't own the space and need to look for housing assistance for people with disabilities, we're proud to offer quality independent-living apartments.
Determine Which Accommodations Are Needed
For people with disabilities, everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, and toileting can present challenges that require additional assistance. The level of assistance needed can vary widely, from minimal support in the form of prompts or reminders, to more extensive support such as help with bathing or dressing.
There are many different tools and devices that can help people with disabilities perform daily living tasks more independently. For example, there are shower chairs, bath lifts, and other assistive devices that can help with bathing, and there are clothing items with special closures or modifications that can make dressing easier. There are also devices that can help with toileting, such as raised toilet seats and commodes.
Some examples of modifications that can be useful for people with disabilities include:
- Installing grab bars in the bathroom to help with tasks like bathing and getting dressed.
- Adding a handheld showerhead or a shower seat to make showering easier.
- Modifying the height of counters and other surfaces to make them more accessible for people using wheelchairs.
- Installing lever-style door handles, which are easier to use than round doorknobs.
In some cases, people with disabilities may need more extensive assistance with daily living tasks. In these situations, it may be necessary to hire a personal care assistant or to seek support from our community Waiver program.
Excellent Housing Options For People With Disabilities
Making structural changes to a building can be a complex and time-consuming process, so it's often a good idea to work with a general contractor who has the expertise and resources to manage the project effectively. A general contractor can help you plan and execute the renovations in a way that meets your needs and complies with relevant building codes and regulations.
Some other things to consider when making a home wheelchair accessible might include:
- Installing ramps or lift systems to help people using mobility devices access different levels of the home.
- Widening doorways and hallways to allow for easier maneuverability with a wheelchair or walker.
- Lowering light switches, outlets, and other fixtures to make them more accessible for people who are seated.
- Adding grab bars and other assistive devices in the bathroom to help with tasks like bathing and getting dressed.
Using design software can be a helpful way to plan and visualize the changes you want to make, and there are many tools available that can make the process easier.
Learning about door sizes for wheelchair or walker access, there are a few things you may want to consider. First, the minimum width for a door to be accessible by a wheelchair or walker is typically 32 inches. However, it's often advisable to have a wider door, particularly if the door will be used frequently by people using mobility devices. For example, a 36-inch-wide door or wider may be more convenient and easier to use.
It's also important to consider the height of the door and the door handle. The door handle should be within reach for someone sitting in a wheelchair, typically no more than 48 inches above the floor. Additionally, the door should have a clear opening of at least 80 inches in height to allow for a person using a wheelchair to pass through.
The Roommate Housing and Matching Program
Easterseals Arkansas has launched an innovative new model to empower adults with disabilities to live more independently in the community – with roommates. Leveraging the power of technology, we are unlocking the potential of our community and establish homes that work for people with disabilities. This is why we’ve introduced our Roommate Housing and Matching Program. Here’s how it works:
Easterseals will match interested adults with like-minded roommates to share rent and life. Roommates will be matched through a 48-question preference questionnaire, similar to one used to match incoming college freshmen for living together in dorms. The questions will cover topics such as personality types, lifestyle preferences, conflict resolution, visitors, pets, and more.
Potential roommates and their families will meet for social outings to make sure it is a good fit before committing to living together. In our initial test apartments, roommates have gone on to become close friends. A version of this model has been very successful at helping people with intense support needs make the transition successfully to living in the community.
Easterseals will partner with both a national housing partner and local landlords to find accessible housing in individuals’ preferred community setting. Each home will accommodate between two to four roommates, allowing residents to share expenses, technology, and staff.
Each home will be operated uniquely based on the needs of the individuals living in the home. Roommates will each have their own lease and will be responsible for paying their portion of rent, utilities, and other household expenses. Depending on funding sources and landlord agreements, housing may be adapted or modified as needed to meet individuals’ accessibility and safety needs.
Smart-Home & Enabling Technology
Each home will be equipped with smart-home enabling technology, such as smart locks, thermostats, medication dispensers, and phone apps with to-do lists and reminders. This smart-home technology will be customized to each person’s needs and will help them manage daily life to live more independently.
Homes will also be equipped with remote monitoring technology such as video doorbells to detect wandering, motion sensors to detect falls, and stove sensors to monitor safety. Specific technology will depend on the particular areas of concern for each person at each home. With remote monitoring technology, one direct support professional will be able to monitor up to ten homes at one time.
As anyone who has tried to coordinate care can tell you, it is challenging to find attendants for overnight and weekend shifts. Through more efficient remote monitoring, Easterseals will be able to ensure that there is always someone available to respond in case of emergency and keep residents safe and healthy through daily care and assistance. This reduces the need for “overnight staff” to ensure safety.
The Roommate Housing and Matching Program will also offer individuals with disabilities the greatest possible level of independence in their community of choice. Through Easterseals, they will also have access to a host of other programs and services, including employment placement assistance, recreation, volunteer opportunities, and other community activities of their choice.
Staffing and Support Services
Residents will have support from direct support professionals to assist them in daily life. Staffing schedules and ratios will be unique for each home, based on the medical, physical, and personal care needs of the roommates. In addition to daily support from direct support professionals, Easterseals will also provide regular check-ins from a Community Health Nurse to support residents’ medication, health management, and wellness needs.
Independent Living Apartments
The Adult Services programs can provide your adult child housing options that are partially financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development thanks to kind donations and several government-funded initiatives (HUD).
There are four different independent-living apartment communities. Each complex has a community room, laundry room, and on-site manager in addition to up to 17 ground-floor apartments.
Armistead Village, Wilson Court I, Wilson Court II, and Harold Court are the four apartment buildings for people with disabilities that Easterseals Arkansas manages in Little Rock.
Our accessible, secure, and affordable housing encourages an independent lifestyle for our tenants. Although every apartment building has a different floor layout, all are one- or two-bedroom ground-floor residences.
Every apartment features a large living area, a fully functional kitchen, a bathroom that is totally accessible, a separate entrance, a full bathroom, and closet space.
Contact us for more information and any inquiries you might have. Our dedicated team will answer any questions you might have to ensure your loved one can access quality housing for people with disabilities.