Housing can be a major stress point for many people at the best of times, and trying to figure out what modifications or housing you’ll need can be a nightmare for many people with a spinal injury. On top of finding that dream home or making your place just perfect, there is accessibility to consider and modifications to plan as well.
If you’re still in the hospital and haven’t been discharged from rehabilitation yet, now is the perfect time to arrange your housing needs, as it will become more difficult once you’ve left. As the hospital can’t discharge you until you’re ready, take the time to make sure that the residence you’re returning to will be properly modified and liveable for you once you come home. The Home Assist program operates to help individuals plan out their modifications and get referrals to building companies, information services and subsidy schemes so that you won’t have to be out of pocket for modification expenses.
However, there has been a change in policy that will affect the way modifications work for people with disability who are purchasing a new home, rather than modifying their existing house. According to the new ruling, people with a disability who are buying a new residence that is not accessible will have to pay themselves for any modifications made to the building. Home Assist expects that people with a disability will purchase an already-modified home, and that it’s a clear choice to purchase one that is not accessible. 25% of people in our community are people with disabilities, yet we know that far less than 25% of available housing is not accessible, so this poses a problem. This ruling also doesn’t take into account the location of the individual, and their free choice in deciding where they would like to live.
Autonomy and choice are of the utmost importance for people with a disability and as we move toward a more inclusive future, these things must be prioritised in all aspects of life, especially housing. If you are concerned about the challenges of planning home modifications or purchasing an accessible home, we’re here to assist and provide as much information as we can. Everyone deserves a home, and for that home to be as comfortable and accessible as possible.