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New Bill Aims to Make Homes More Livable

Have you ever had your arms full of grocery bags and tried to hold on to them and open your front door at the same time? Maybe you’ve had difficulty climbing the steps to your bedroom after spraining your ankle. Perhaps you’ve had trouble reaching the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet while putting your holiday turkey platter away. If you have found yourself in situations similar to these, you may need to consider incorporating universal design features into your house or apartment.

Universal design is about creating a home that not only is attractive but also comfortable, convenient, safe, and easy to live in. In fact, eighty-nine percent of Americans who responded to a recent survey told AARP they want to stay in their current home and community as they age.

A recent effort in Delaware aims to make this possible for all. AARP supports house bill 426, sponsored by Sen. Sorensen, Rep. Johnson and Rep. Longhurst. The bill requires all single-family, duplex, triplex and four-plex units built with public funds in Delaware to incorporate Universal Design features into their construction. The ADA and the Fair Housing Acts already address accessibility in housing of five units and above; although those laws only require 5 percent of the houses built to have minimum accessibility.

Various criteria are cited in the bill including required no-step entrances, bathrooms on first floors, and wider doorways.

Delawareans are encouraged to support the bills’ passage by contacting their elected officials to express the bill’s importance.

Find your local state legislator.

Learn more about universal design in Delaware.

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