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Group empowers disabled homebuyers

More than 52 million Americans are living with some form of life-altering disability, according to experts, many of which cause problems with mobility and everyday life activities. Among those who receive Social Security Disability payments, one factor is consistently overlooked: How can a homeowner modify their house to fit his/her special needs?

For some Pennsylvania residents, that's where Accessible Dreams comes in. The organization is dedicated to improving the availability of accessible housing throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Many people who have suffered a stroke, experienced an accident or sustained prolonged illness do not know where to turn to modify their homes to accommodate their physical needs. Finding wheelchair-accessible housing alone can be a nightmare, according to program administrators, which is why Accessible Dreams is committed to helping local residents find barrier-free housing.

The organization designs, builds and modifies homes in the local community to assist area residents who have disabilities. The group offers real estate services such as selling and contract negotiations. Administrators also help with budgeting, financial services and a variety of other initiatives designed to aid disabled individuals in finding stable, secure housing. Workers with the group thoroughly assess the client's needs, creating a comprehensive and customized plan to suit each person's mobility limitations.

The organization recently completed a completely accessible home in Canonsburg. The two buyers, a couple, both suffer from debilitating conditions that require the entire house to be accessible. Accessible Dreams installed kitchen, living area, dining area and bathroom modifications to help the pair navigate their daily activities.

The homes are not just for adults with disabilities. Among the 80 families of children with respiratory illnesses in the area, many parents were complaining that they could no longer carry their kids up the stairs. The organization is pushing local and national builders to include accessible designs in as many as 10 percent of newly built houses, which they say will significantly aid individuals with mobility problems throughout the nation.

Source: The Almanac, "Group makes handicapped accessible housing a reality," Terry Kish, June 27, 2012

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