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  • Writer's pictureJustin Lundy

Beyond the Walls: Navigating Housing Challenges for Individuals with Disabilities

Person viewing a house but blocked a wall that holds symbols like money

Unlocking $40 billion in COVID-19 aid by the US government to create more affordable housing options is not just a financial move; it’s a potential life-changer for millions of low-income families and individuals with disabilities. For the latter group, finding suitable housing and maintaining stability in their communities can be especially challenging. Let’s look into some of these barriers and explore how technology can help.



Financial Barriers


People with disabilities often face significant financial hurdles. According to the Urban Institute, 22% of them have “extremely low incomes,” falling below 30% of the area median income. Moreover, the unemployment rate among people with disabilities was a staggering 77% in 2021, compared to 31% for the nondisabled population. This income disparity exacerbates the already pressing issue of affordable housing. Similarly, the visually impaired community encounters similar challenges, with only 44% of blind individuals being employed, as per the American Community Survey. Without gainful employment, the possibility of financial security is limited, which in turn blocks the possibility of ever owning a home.


Discrimination and Stigma


Stigma surrounding disabilities, particularly visual impairment, is pervasive. Biases, often unconscious, plague hiring managers and housing providers alike. There's a misconception regarding the competence of individuals with disabilities, including visual impairment, leading to discriminatory practices. Many fail to recognize the potential for success enabled by adaptive technology. This stigma extends to housing applications, creating additional barriers for people with disabilities.


Accessible Housing 


Now a big one- Not only is there a lack of affordable housing, there are also very few housing options that are accessible or have the services available that are needed to live independently. When we have spoken with the visually impaired community, one of their biggest concerns is knowing if homes are one story, have accessibility modifications, or if they are close to a bus stop (since transportation options are also limited). In an analysis by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, they found that single-family homes are the least likely to have accessibility options like single floor living, no steps entrances, or large hallways and doors (less than 5% of all housing stock at the time of the study), making them unsuitable for many individuals with disabilities.


Harnessing Technology


While Finding Homes does not solve these issues, it allows anyone who may not have the physical ability to use a touch screen in general or that has visual impairments to access properties that might better fit their needs. It is important to Lundy that we continue to drive towards solving these larger housing concerns. Technology has always been at the forefront of helping people live independently, and real estate should be no exception. 


 

The $40 billion injection into affordable housing initiatives is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to address the housing crisis facing people with disabilities. By challenging discriminatory practices, increasing housing accessibility, and harnessing the power of technology, we can create a more inclusive housing landscape. Let’s continue driving toward solutions that enhance the lives of millions of individuals with disabilities, ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and accessible housing options.



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