The New Home Access Act 2011 The need Most houses in Georgia have steps at all entrances. This makes it dangerous, or often impossible, for people with mobility problems to enter or exit—whether they use wheelchairs, walkers, or have other mobility problems. Most houses also have narrow bathroom doors that wheelchairs can’t pass through. More than half of all new houses built will have a resident with a long-term, severe mobility impairment during the lifetime of the house. And we can’t predict in which houses disability will occur.
The result? Barriers make people unsafe in their own homes. And they shut people out from visiting the homes of their friends and family. Barriers in houses also send many people to nursing homes who could otherwise live at home. Most people would much rather remain in their own community, but steps and narrow door can keep them from coming home from the hospital to their own home. High nursing home residence has enormous impact on the state and national budget.
- At the same moment families are searching desperately for money to add ramps or widen doorways, these same barriers are being constructed on thousands of new homes. Change is practical!
- A city in Illinois requires that every new house has access: 3,500 built so far
- So does a county in Arizona. 22,000 built so far. Government officials there have gone on record that the access features add no cost and the law is easy to administer
In Georgia, some Habitat for Humanity affiliates build every new house with access. Atlanta Habitat: 950 built so far. Valdosta Habitat, 100+. In thousands of new houses in Georgia –only the ones built on a concrete slab–this act would create:
- One entrance with zero steps
- All doors on the main floor—including bathrooms– 32 inches wide or more
- Blocking in bathroom walls near toilets and showers, so grab bars could be added later if needed • Reachable light switches and electrical plugs