This is an interesting article out of the UK (thanks to my uncle Bruce for linking it to me) discussing the difficulties that younger people have in finding homes that can accommodate their disabilities. It touches on something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit since my own experience in a rehab hospital, and on how the systems out there support (or don’t) younger people with disabilities…but this one is specifically about homes.
Now I realize…the UK is in a very different place then we in Canada when it comes to home buying, even for able-bodied people. One look at any BBC Canada property show (see Location Location Location…and yes I sometimes watch it…its a favourite of Shan’s) to see just how different the homes are there from what we are used to here. Many homes are ancient dwellings that have been modernized as much as possible and in many small towns, the streets can barely handle a single car, much less accessible sidewalks.
So what about a young person with a disability, but still capable of living their lives (there are a lot of us) that want to own a home?
Even here in Canada that is a challenge. It’s a bit strange because if you are older and thinking of going into a retirement home, or special care home, there are plenty of resources, even though the wait times can still be somewhat extreme.
What about those of us who are much younger though?
Shan and I went through this when we bought our new home just before the second surgery I had back in 2010. We were being proactive at the time, knowing my legs were getting worse, and that the best case from the surgery was that it would only stop it getting worse. We never fooled ourselves into thinking it would get better….thus we went looking for a bungalow and something smaller that would be safer and suit both our needs.
A very tall order let me tell you. First…just try to find a bloody bungalow in Toronto these days! Not as easy as you think (without heading to the burbs). Now try to find one with minimal stairs…which at the time was the only real requirement we had?
We lucked out and had a great realtor (thanks Dan!) who understood our needs and helped us find our current place…which we kind of lucked into and fell in love with. At the time, we never thought a third surgery might be coming in less than a year and the distinct possibility of permanent paralysis. Thankfully, it didn’t go that far…but we still had to look at making changes, and we recognize that it’s still a possibility down the road.
So what to do? We’re both still fairly young, independent…and I’m definitely not moving into a home for the aged. What resources are there our there to help?
Well on first glance, not as much as you think. Especially if you are two people with a middle income who “make too much money”. That’s what you get told when you aren’t rich enough not to care, but make too much to qualify for government help with renos and such…even if those renos will pretty much bankrupt you.
No, I’m not whining…Shannon and I are pretty lucky so far despite it all and we’ll deal with the future, but there are a lot of people who don’t have any resources and want to be able to be independent. What do they do? Who do they turn to when they want to buy a home with accessible needs? Are real estate agents out there trained to deal with such? Does MLS offer checkboxes for accessibility needs?
I don’t know the answers to those and I am sure a host of other questions. The article above just got me thinking about how hard it would be to hunt for a home if I was completely paralyzed….something that would work for both Shannon and I (as you can’t forget it still has to work for your able-bodied partner too).
So…not looking for any magic answers here, just something a bit through provoking that got me wanting ramble a bit. Take a bit to read it as it makes for some interesting dilemmas…and I’m not honestly sure how much better (or worse) we are here in Canada.
I’ll get back to my complaining about bad streets and dangerous disabled bathrooms soon enough.