Program makes homes accessible for Chicagoans

October 24, 2010 8:32:00 AM PDT
This is the time of the year when the City of Chicago is taking applications for its home modification program that helps Chicagoans with disabilities live independently.

Whether you own or rent a home, the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities has been able to make accessible interior and exterior modifications.

Artessa Mitchell's bathroom was modified this summer through the HomeMod Program.

Bryon Hanson, contractor from Independent Living Solution, was hired to do Artessa's bathroom.

"Before, there was a 30-inch door, which is very tight for someone who's in a wheelchair," said Hanson.

"Initially, there was a large closet in the bedroom here and it cut down the size of the bathroom," Hanson said. "So we determined to enlarge the bathroom. We removed the closet to basically double the size of the show to make it more accessible.

"Now, the roll-in shower base is actually 6-feet wide by 3-feet, so it gives adequate room for somebody who is using the facility."

The project only took a week and half to complete at a cost of a little over $10,000.

"It's something that people can walk in and enjoy everyday," said Hanson.

This is just one of 500-plus projects that were completed through HomeMod Program since they started in 1999, says MOPD's commissioner Karen Tamley.

"The great thing about the program is it provides grant funds to people with disabilities who are primarily low income to make their homes accessible," said Tamley. "As you know those can be sometimes very costly modifications, such as making your front entrance accessible or making your bathroom useable, if you use a wheelchair or your kitchen accessible."

In addition to having to be at the low-to-moderate income level, people with disabilities must be under 59 years of age and living in the City of Chicago.

"Individuals would apply through MOPD," said Tamley. "They can call 3-1-1 to get the applications. We would look through all the applications and identify individuals who would be qualified for the program then go out and do site assessments to determine what the needs would be."

"We work with a number of different contractors that actually perform the work," Tamley said.

The deadline for applying is January 15, 2011.

"We can't serve all the individuals that apply for the funds, because there is limited funds," said Tamley.

For 25-year-old Artessa Mitchell, who has several disabilities, this is a dream come true. Tamley.

"Thank you all for doing this. You are a great help to me," Mitchell said. Tamley.

If you are interested in the HomeMod Program, you can either call 3-1-1 for an application or go to MOPD's website. Tamley.

Remember, you have until January 15, 2011, to apply for this program.


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