Non-profit housing program offers accessible, affordable living options

MATTESON, Ill. (WLS) -- Many people take for granted the ease at which they can get around in their own homes, but for some people, their homes barely accommodate their basic needs. Now, there are some new affordable options.

When Courtney Stocking set out to find her first apartment, the experience was more like looking for a needle in a haystack.

"We must have looked at 100 places and none of them were accessible so we ended up having to make a senior facility apartment accessible by using my own money," Stocking said.

Now she speaks out to advocate for better housing options for people who use wheelchairs or need other assistance with mobility.

"Most people think that if there's a grab bar, okay, it must be accessible, but if you can't fit your chair through the bathroom door, obviously you can't go to the bathroom," Stocking said.

A new 40-unit low-income apartment building in south suburban Matteson is deemed a better option.

"Our bathrooms have 5-foot turning radiuses and all have roll-in showers. You can pull underneath the sink - the kitchens, you can pull underneath the sink, the counters," said Eric Huffman, executive director, Over the Rainbow Association. "All the switches are front loaded so that you can easily turn the lights on or you can turn your range on."

This is the ninth apartment complex built by the non-profit Over the Rainbow Association. All of their units are barrier-free, meaning there are no stairs or thresholds anywhere in the building that would hinder a person with a physical disability.

"These buildings are what you call 'disability neutral' so it could be somebody with cerebral palsy, it could be a veteran who's an amputee, really anything," Huffman said.

The new building is set to open in about two weeks and the Over the Rainbow Association is still taking tenant applications. They also have buildings under construction in Chicago and the northwest suburbs. For more information, visit http://www.otrassn.org/applying.html.

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