Housing is an alarming concern in many communities. Affordable housing shortages receive the most attention. Yet, the availability of accessible housing is equally alarming. Now is the time to account for the needs of people with mobility limitations in the housing market.
Adults age 50 and older report that they would like to remain in their home for a long time (Source: AARP). The simple fact is that is not realistic long-term. While across the lifespan we experience short periods of injury or disability, increasing age is associated with long-term disability and mobility limitations. The impact of these disabilities and mobility limitations can be reduced by building homes that are appropriately sized and spaced in key areas (e.g. bathroom). Yet, these types of units are largely unavailable in the current stock of homes.
As a result, many older occupants are facing home modification to achieve their goal of staying in their home for a long time. The unfortunate news is that many individuals are blind to the deficiencies in their home until a personal crisis occurs or they cannot invite a cherished friend or relative to their home. It is likely that the costs of the home modification are beyond their reach, and they are forced to find alternative housing arrangements in a market with few accessible options.
Voices for Home Modification Project
Because of this reality, the Voices for Home Modification project was launched. This two-state project includes representatives from North Dakota and South Dakota. This group includes individuals, architects, interior designers, gerontologist, occupational therapists, physical therapists, emergency service providers, government agencies, and more. Their mission is to increase knowledge and awareness about the role home design plays in quality of life for people with mobility limitations. With a vision that every home is constructed to enhance quality of life for all people. They are offering their time in-kind to develop the Home Modification Toolkit.
This group began collaborating during summer of 2021. The toolkit that they are developing will include testimonials from people in North Dakota and South Dakota, social media materials, educational content, and consumer resources. The group seeks to conduct an awareness campaign across both states to increase consumer and professional knowledge about home modification. For example, this group plans to conduct outreach activities at housing-related events (e.g. parade of homes, home builder shows, etc.).
The ultimate outcome of this project will be a list of home modification providers that is easily accessible to consumers. In addition, options for financing home modification will be available to help consumers without means to afford them. Finally, a wide variety of educational materials will be available for education and outreach efforts (e.g. city council, funders and foundations, real estate and building professionals, etc.).
Many individuals and families are living in homes that do not align with their mobility needs (e.g., accessible bathroom). The Voices for Home Modification of the Dakota project team invited various people in North Dakota and South Dakota to share their testimonials about mobility limitations and housing. We invite you to read these testimonials to learn how real people in North Dakota and South Dakota are affected by home modification.
The home modification planning guide is a tool for anyone who plans to age in place. The guide is designed to help you think about how you might actually use the home after developing disabilities. The guide includes a series of questions grouped into four categories, including exterior, accessible routes, essential features, and using the home. By answering these questions, you will have a better understanding of some of the home modifications you might need to make to age in place.
Not sure where to start when securing funding for your home modification project? This resource was developed to help you understand how to pay for home modifications in North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as describe some of the challenges you may encounter as you search for businesses or organizations to renovate your home for you. It also has information for businesses interested in getting listed in home modification databases.
How to become involved?
You have many options to become involved in this project. Below is a list of ways to help.
- You can add your business or agency to resource databases.
- You can join the team of professionals who are putting together the toolkit.
- You can share your personal home modification story.
- You can advocate for home modification in your community.
- You can sponsor marketing and outreach efforts.
- You can lead education and outreach efforts.
- You can establish local coalitions in your region or community to advocate for home modification.
Interested in learning more about Voices for Home Modification project? Contact Leacey E. Brown, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist, at 605-394-1722 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.