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Affordable and Accessible Rental

July 27, 2010

A lack in accessible and affordable housing is one of the most significant obstacles people with disabilities face. The inability to find affordable, accessible housing solutions leads to a loss of dignity and self respect. By researching local, state and federal assistance programs and working within your community to identify or modify existing properties, the opportunity to move into a home that reflects your lifestyle, dreams and aspirations can become a reality despite your disability.

Fair Housing Amendments Act

While compromising for the sake of accessibility might mean living in a dwelling that never feels like home, it does not have to be the case if you understand your rights as a renter. If you choose to rent a home, The Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), which became law on March 12, 1989, protects people with disabilities in the housing process. Under FHAA, it is illegal to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of a dwelling, to refuse to process an offer, or to refuse a legitimate offer on the basis of the applicant’s disability. The Fair Housing Act also makes it illegal to use differing applications or criteria for persons with and without disabilities or to segregate persons with disabilities to specific units or areas.

Renters with disabilities must be granted the same liberties in selecting homes. Units in a multi-family building of four or more units equipped with at least one elevator, and ground floor units in buildings of four or more without elevators, are required to be accessible. The Fair Housing Act also requires that the renter be allowed to make reasonable modifications to these units at his or her expense to accommodate a disability. If you need funds to make these modifications, grants are available at both the state and federal levels to make this happen.

Cost of a rental home does not necessarily have to be a limiting factor for the disabled renter. Several programs are available to make renting more affordable to the disabled. Low income tax credits and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME program generate equity capital for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. These programs are being expanded as the federal government offers new and varied types of housing options.

Disabled Veteran Benefits

Veterans or service members who have specific service-connected disabilities may be entitled to a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the purpose of constructing an accessible home or modifying an existing home to meet their accessibility needs. The goal of this Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program is to provide a barrier-free home that affords the veteran a level of independence that he or she might not otherwise enjoy. In most cases, this program does not apply to rental property although VA caseworkers work with each individual veteran on a case by case basis to develop the best solution. 

Homes have long been regarded are more than just buildings; they are dwellings that reflect the personality and taste of the owner. The types of homes that people choose reflect their lifestyle, dreams and aspirations. For the disabled, the additional burden of finding a home that is accessible often leads to compromises that overshadow realizing the dream of a home. Learn the law and make the dream of living in a home your own personal reality.

Resources for Renters

Sources of online information for selecting and locating accessible rental homes:

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Steele permalink
    July 27, 2010 3:01 pm

    I don’t believe the town of Prescott Valley has approved access for handicapped in all new models or apartments. I know the P & Z commission turned down a request to require all new home models have access by wider doors handles and light switches.

  2. Dane Hammond permalink*
    July 28, 2010 4:31 pm

    Tom,
    You can imagine that requiring all new construction to be “up to code” for handicapped requirements is a daunting task. Think of internal and enterance doors alone being standard sizes and then expanding that standard to accomodate wheelchairs. It’s certain in an era with new home starts being way down and housing values plummeting the construction industry will be resistant…the fight goes on and we do need government officials to be aware of disabled requirements. One step at a time…Thanks for lending your voice to our blog, it’s greatly appreciated.

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