City helps disabled modify their homes

December 8, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The HomeMod program started 12 years ago by the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). More than 500 projects around the city have been completed, and those who have participated see amazing results.

Glenn Wheeler bought his condo prior to losing both his legs.

"I have a vascular disease and I also have a blood disease disorder which is called hypercoagulability," said Wheeler. "It started about 12 years ago and I lost my right leg in July 2008 and then I started having problems with my left leg, which I lost in December of last year, 2010."

The biggest challenge was to access his bathrooms.

"One of the concerns that I had was the aesthetic, function and aesthetics. So we decided to alter the hall bathroom which would be easier job," said Wheeler.

Karen Tamley, commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, says the two highest demand for modifications are...

"Accessible bathrooms or entrances into house. And if you think about the entrance being a really primary mode for access for someone to in and out of work to care about part of their communities, that certainly is a really important feature that many people would need," said Tamley.

To quality for the HomeMod program, you have to be a Chicago resident with a disability under the age of 60. It can also be a family member. Income level has to be below 80% of the area median income. You can either own or rent a home. The budget is $10,000 per project.

"We screen the applications. We go out and do the sight assessments to determine the need. We meet with the individuals, talk with the families. But we do have contractors that actually do the work to ensure quality that we're adhering to all building guidelines that we need to do," said Tamley.

"We can make bathrooms accessible with rolling showers or sinks that are accessible. We can do kitchens, like lowering counter tops, cabinets, making appliances with reach. We also do a lot of entrances, so ramps, porch lifts and those type of things," she said.

Glenn Wheeler's project was completed earlier this year.

"I knew it would make my life easier and I was in very much appreciation that they choose me," said Wheeler.

When you drive around the city most housing you see has a flight of stairs to get into. And so this program is really critical for keeping people with disabilities living in the city in the home of their choice," said Tamley.

The deadline to apply for 2011 Home Mod program is January 1, 2012. So if you are need of some modifications, now is the time to get your application in. For more information, visit

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