How Accessibility-Focused Housing Design Benefits Everyone

Affordable housing is an issue which is front and centre in many communities. It is an issue which affects everyone, especially the younger generation who struggle to save enough to use as a down payment. Housing affordability coupled with onsite supports is also vital for people with disabilities who can benefit from increased independence.

Many jurisdictions are introducing changes to their building codes to increase accessibility for multi-unit residential buildings. The Province of Ontario introduced changes to its regulations that affect new builds, as well as major renovations and cover anything from a building’s transition to the sidewalk to the configuration of an apartment. Other stipulations include accessibility to common areas including pools and rooftop patios, and mandatory visual fire alarms. The regulations mandate15 per cent of all new units have stringent accessibility features such as a barrier-free route to a bathroom, a bedroom, a kitchen and a living-room. Additionally, bathrooms must be large enough for a wheelchair to turn around and have reinforced walls to accommodate grab bars.

Over the Atlantic, an organization in the UK promotes and provides accessible, affordable housing and makes the case for why barrier-free housing benefits everyone.  Habinteg also manages more than 3,400 units and implements standards which meet the needs of people with disabilities as well as the general aging population. Research suggests a growing market for accessible housing in England, and people are willing to pay the price for a home which can facilitate their needs as they age with dignity, reducing the need to move to assisted living prematurely. These efforts are designed to accommodate affordability and life-style assistance, which are two criteria which must be attainable for people of all ages and abilities to feel secure at home in their community.

For more information about accessible housing, click here.