Calgary’s housing options want to handle accessibility challenges

Calgary’s housing options want to handle accessibility challenges

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Eighteen months. That’s how lengthy I, Ryan, seemed for an accessible home to name my very own in Calgary. After an intensive search that got here up empty, I made a decision my solely choice was to make one. Paralyzed from the chest down after surviving the Humboldt Bronco bus crash in 2018, my housing wants now embody accessible options similar to ramps, wider doorways and decrease counter tops. I’m working to renovate a house I bought earlier this yr to make sure it’s useful and helps my independence, however it’s an choice not everybody who wants accessible housing can afford.

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It’s not information to anybody that Calgary and the remainder of Canada are in a housing disaster. In response to the Housing Wants Evaluation launched by the Metropolis of Calgary this yr, the typical value of a single indifferent residence has elevated by 37 per cent within the final three years, the typical lease has elevated by 40 per cent in that very same timeframe and the emptiness charge has dropped to 3 per cent. One in 5 households in Calgary can not afford their housing.

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Think about how far more advanced the challenges are when accessibility is a think about your housing search. There’s a extreme lack of knowledge obtainable in regards to the variety of accessible housing items within the Calgary market. And never far more is understood when contemplating reasonably priced and accessible housing mixed. A 2016 Metropolis of Calgary Housing Stock report indicated that solely 3.5 per cent of non-market housing items are wheelchair accessible. Accessible Housing discovered of their feasibility examine carried out in 2021 that there are someplace between 600 to 1,180 items in Calgary’s reasonably priced housing inventory which can be accessible, but roughly 46,000 Calgarians dwell with a mobility incapacity and qualify for reasonably priced housing. That quantity can solely be anticipated to extend with the anticipated inhabitants progress of 29 per cent within the 65+ age vary within the subsequent 5 years.

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So, why aren’t extra accessible housing items being constructed?

It comes right down to price. It prices extra to construct housing that’s accessible because of the further house, added options and supplies required underneath the nationwide constructing code. The associated fee solely goes up as the extent of care required for individuals with disabilities to dwell as independently as potential will increase, together with elevators, lifts, non-combustible supplies and specialised fixtures.

Like many organizations, Vecova is doing its half to handle this scarcity by redeveloping one in all our websites that might triple the variety of individuals with disabilities we at the moment serve at that location. Nonetheless, securing funding is a problem. Whereas some funders prioritize funding for equity-deserving teams like individuals with disabilities, the factors by which tasks are chosen for funding don’t bear in mind the extra price per unit that shall be required to construct on the accessibility degree required for a few of our most susceptible residents. Nor does the funding embody housing for people who require day by day care assist to dwell independently outdoors of the overburdened health-care system. This makes it troublesome for accessible housing proposals to compete for sorely wanted funding to construct accessible items.

Whether or not you’re a hopeful house owner trying to find an accessible residence or an individual receiving AISH (Assured Earnings for the Severely Handicapped) who wants an reasonably priced choice with day by day helps, there may be clearly a scarcity of appropriate housing choices obtainable. As the assorted ranges of presidency and group stakeholders seek for options, it’s crucial that the crucial want for accessible housing not get misplaced within the dialog.

Kelly Holmes-Binns is CEO of Vecova, and Ryan Straschnitzki is an accessibility advocate and Vecova ambassador.

Vecova introduced the appointment of Ryan Straschnitzki as their first-ever Ambassador, who will assist Vecova in its mission to advocate for people with disabilities and foster a extra inclusive group in Calgary. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Photograph by Darren Makowichuk /DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia

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