Sending Office: Honorable Janice D. Schakowsky
Supported by: The Arc of the United States, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Association of People with Disabilities, and AARP.
I invite you to join me as an original cosponsor of the Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act of 2018. This legislation would make more new homes accessible for people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans.
Many towns and states have already incorporated accessibility standards into their building codes. This list includes Chicago, Naperville, Bolingbrook, and Urbana, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Iowa City, Iowa; St. Petersburg, Florida; Pima County, Arizona;
Vermont; Texas; Kansas; Minnesota; and others. A federal law would build on that momentum.
The Inclusive Home Design Act is based on the concept of integrating basic accessibility features into newly-built homes. The legislation would require all newly-built single-family homes and townhouses receiving federal funds to meet several accessibility
1) At least one accessible (or “zero step”) entrance into the home;
2) Doorways wide enough for a wheelchair on the main level;
3) One wheelchair accessible bathroom; and
4) Light switches and thermostats at reachable heights from a wheelchair.
Currently, only 5 percent of new single-family homes and townhouses built with federal assistance require any access features that make it possible for people with mobility impairments to live in or even visit the homes. The remaining 95 percent are built
with unnecessary architectural barriers. The average added cost to incorporate accessibility features at the time of construction is between $100 and $600. Retrofitting a home, on the other hand, can cost thousands of dollars.
Passage of the Inclusive Home Design Act would mean that all homes built with federal dollars would be accessible, and the number of homes available for people with disabilities, seniors who want to age in place, and veterans would be greatly increased.
When homes are accessible, it benefits not only the disability community but also all of us who have friends and family members with disabilities. By making more new homes accessible, we also make it possible for more seniors to age at home – an issue that
is increasingly important as the population grows older. In 2016, there were 49 million people age 65 and over; that number will grow to 56 million by 2020. 44 percent of people over the age of 75 suffer from some form of physical impairment. Often, the
prohibitive cost of making existing homes accessible deprives seniors of their independence and pushes them into nursing homes sooner and at a much higher cost.
If you are interested in joining as a cosponsor of the Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act of 2018, please contact Whitley O’Neal in my office at x52111 or by email at
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Member of Congress
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