On July 6, 2023, Independence Now was pleased to testify in support of the Universal Design for Housing bill. Independence Now is a nonprofit Center for Independent Living serving people of all ages and disabilities in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. For the past 10 years, housing has been a major focus for our consumers and our advocacy.
This legislation will significantly help to have additional accessible housing in Prince George’s County. Finding housing that works when you have a physical disability is often difficult because there is simply not enough for everyone who needs it. This legislation covers many of the accessibility items needed for individuals with disabilities to live independently. Wider hallways and doorways, lever handles, full extension drawers and pull-out shelves, are items in a house that help everyone.
Retrofitting existing housing is not always possible. It is much easier to build housing that is ready for stair glides and grab bars to be installed if they are needed than more extensive work that has to be done when that prep work is not included. We have had consumers who could not stay in their homes because it was not possible to install a stair glide.
Independence Now is pleased there will be a Universal Design Implementation Work Group to review provisions and provide advice. The Work Group sets out the needed voices to do this work, including people with disabilities.
We were excited for the opportunity to testify and for the introduction of this important legislation to move housing accessibility forward in Prince George’s County.
Thank you, County Council Member Jolene Ivey for introducing bill before the Prince George’s County Council to require some new residential houses and buildings to meet minimal universal design requirements.