City program helps make houses more accessible

December 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) Since 1992, the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities has been providing financial assistance with interior and exterior home modifications to Chicago residents with disabilities who are under the age of 59 and are of low-to-moderate income. Accessible features can be made to homes and apartments with a cost cap of $10,000.

An exterior vertical platform lift was installed at the Davis's home for Luther Donald Jr. A year ago, Luther became disabled.

"He was hit by a car. He was on his motorcycle, and it was a hit-and-run," said Yvonne Davis, Luther's mom.

After becoming disabled, Luther was sent to a nursing home. His mom Yvonne said that was a bad experience.

"But we got him home, and another experience that I had was trying to get a lift," Yvonne said.

Luther needed to go to medical appointments, which created a problem.

"He had to be carried down," said Yvonne.

Luckily, she found MOPD's HomeMod program, which installed the lift.

"And the lift has been a godsend. I can leave without worrying about breaking appointments," Yvonne said.

Karen Tamley is MOPD's commissioner. She says they do between 60 and 75 homes a year, depending on the cost.

"We do everything from exterior lifts and ramps into the home to stair glides up to the second floor. We can modify kitchens and bathrooms so that people with disabilities can live independently in their own homes," said Tamley.

They also provide assistive technology like communication devices that Luther uses.

The Davis's home is the MOPD's 500th and the commissioner came to present the family with a special gift the people from Extended Home Living got Luther: a new wheelchair.

James Quinn has been working closely with the family.

"I talk to Ms. Donald a couple times a week just to make sure everything is okay and have been over here a few times this week. She's a nice women, and Luther is a great guy as well," Quinn said.

"Every year between October and December is our application period, so the application period for next year will close December 31st, 2009," said Tamley.

If you want to know more about MOPD'sS HomeMod program go to or call 3-1-1. The application period for 2009 ends December 31.

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