By Natalie Alden
My name is Natalie Alden and I am the Representative Payee Program Operations Coordinator at Disability Rights Florida. We have main offices in Tallahassee, Tampa, Hollywood and Gainesville, Florida, but I telecommute from Jacksonville.
Disability is very important when it comes to affordable housing as approximately 20% of Americans have some type of disability. Many of these individuals are low income and are on fixed incomes, such as SSI, SSDI, retirement, etc. This coupled with the fact that many individuals with disabilities require larger doorways and roll-in showers/grab bars/shower chairs, makes it even harder for them to find affordable housing. It is understood that there are tax credits that help create more accessible units in new affordable housing projects. However, there is minimum awareness of creating projects with universal access to ensure that most (if not all) of the units have basic accessibility needs for individuals with disabilities. This would be ensuring that basic accessibility options are put in place during construction, including doorways that are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs both into the unit and into at least one bedroom and one bathroom, bathrooms that have grab bars and roll-in showers. Creating accessible units is more cost-effective during the construction phase than the cost of making accommodations after the project is complete. There are also issues with enforcement of projects having people with disabilities in their accessible units to keep their tax credit.
This conference benefited me both personally and professionally as I was able to educate others and obtain vital information by asking questions in the sessions about disability issues, networking with other conference goers, and speaking to the different vendors on how they can help with creating more safe, accessible, and affordable housing. Being able to have a personal care attendant, documents in accessible format, and an accessible hotel room in with a roll in shower made it possible for me to attend this conference.
I truly believe that the Conference Accessibility Initiative by J.P. Morgan Chase and WID makes a huge difference for people with disabilities by not only creating awareness on how simple accommodations can help with the inclusiveness of people with disabilities into all facets of life but, helps promote self-determination for individuals with disabilities. It is important for people with disabilities to be a part of the decision-making process on issues that affect their lives. It is this inclusion that can help equal the playing field and allow people with disabilities to prosper.
Would you like to be a Disability Ambassador with WID and JP Morgan & Chase? Applications for 2020 are now available!
To read more about our Disability Ambassadors’ experiences at Florida Housing Coalition’s Affordable Housing Conference 2019, follow either link below:
For more Disability Ambassador blogs, check out our Conference Accessibility Initiative 2019 page.
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