COLUMBUS — State Reps. Michael Stinziano and Cheryl Grossman will soon introduce bipartisan legislation that helps senior citizens and Ohioans with disabilities renovate their homes to make them more accessible.
The new bill will create the Home Accessibility Grant Program, administered by the Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), to allocate funds to homeowners, renters, and builders who add features to make homes universally accessible.
“Helping Ohioans make their homes more accessible for themselves, friends, family, and neighbors will bolster our communities and more fairly support Ohioans who need to invest to continue living in their homes,” said Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat. In introducing the bill he is joined by Rep. Grossman, a Grove City Republican.
The guidelines for universal accessibility will be determined by the ODSA, but generally include entrances accessible by ramps, a first-floor bathroom, and doorways wide enough for universal passage.
Applicants for grants can be eligible for the cost of renovations, up to $5,000. The Home Accessibility Grant Program will be allocated $1 million dollars annually to distribute these grants to Ohioans.
It is estimated that more than one million older adults live in homes that are not suited to their physical needs.
In addition, according to the Journal of American Planning Association, there is a 91 percent probability that a home that was built in 2000 will have at least one disabled resident during the useful life of the home.
The Home Accessibility Grant Program will not only make homes more accessible, but will also increase safety and potentially reduce the number of falls by elderly Ohioans and their guests. In 2010, the Ohio Department of Health recorded over 291,000 individuals as having sustained a fall, of which nearly 1,000 were fatal.
Home modifications and homes built with accessibility features are not only life saving, but are also cost effective investments. Annual medical costs for fall-related hospitalizations in Ohio total $298.5 million or $26 for every Ohio resident.