By Jeremy Einbinder
People with disabilities struggle to participate in activities that lead to their independence. They struggle with the ability to live in their own housing space.
Access to housing can be limited for young adults. Access to adequate housing is even more limited young adults with disabilities.
“Our helpline regularly receives calls from disabled people unable to find suitable accommodation, or stuck in substandard and unsuitable homes,” says said Phil Talbot, head of communications at Disability Charity Scope. “Disabled people tell us they are struggling to find appropriate and accessible social housing. Adapted private properties are also hard to come by.”
Now, why are adapted private properties hard to come by for people with disabilities? In a simple sense, it could be said that it is hard to adapt homes for people because adapting property costs money, which both millennials and people with disabilities are not as likely to have in abundance. An article from The Guardian highlights this problem for young people in Britain, although it can be applied more locally.
“If you are a disabled millennial,” the article reads, “the task isn’t to find affordable, secure housing, but often to find any home at all.”
According to the London School of Economics (LSE), there are 1.8 million people with disabilities struggling to find accessible housing. The LSE further highlights the fact that young people with disabilities who are first time home buyers face very difficult challenges.
It also highlights how the gap between rising rent and lower wages presents challenges for many renters, particularly for people with disabilities.
According to the Special Needs Alliance, as of 2012, the average monthly rent in the U.S. for a one-bedroom apartment was 104 percent of the average monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment.
There are 4.8 million people with disabilities living outside institutional settings who receive SSI payments. That leaves potentially millions of people whose income is not enough to cover the cost of rent. This leads many to either remain in their childhood homes which could stifle their ability to live independently, or to consider institutional settings, which, without financial barriers, they might not otherwise need.
The Special Needs Alliance concurs with the conclusion that accessibility is an issue for disabled home seekers. This issue exists as a result of the extra cost associated with necessary accommodations. Many people with disabilities require wheelchair accessible locations with wider doorways, raised electrical outlets, and lower kitchen surfaces.
For disabled millennials, housing issues can easily become a double-edged sword. This isn’t just an economic issue, but a social one. Discrimination against the disability community remains a pervasive issue, regardless of economic situation, according to the Alliance.
A blog for The Center for Disability Rights in New York State echoes this sentiment. “Instead of talking about their real ignorance or fears,” the post states, “they spout concerns that they think will be the politically correct way of saying they do not want ‘those people’. But it’s just a vain cover-up.”
Many people with disabilities remain in our childhood homes longer than would otherwise be necessary. This is an issue for millennials in general as well due to our economic standing. Many of us resort to living situations we aren’t comfortable with, like institutions, as previously mentioned, because they are so few other housing options available to us.
This has got to change. The able-bodied populous needs exposure to us so they do not remain afraid and discriminatory with regard to our right to live in society with them. Landlords have to start being fair to prospective tenants with disabilities. If housing developers are so concerned about the cost of accessible housing, perhaps it is a good idea to start considering accessibility for all buildings a matter of public investment. The time is overdue.