There is an enormous housing need for people effected by disease. Disease can cause abnormalities that manifest themselves and limit the usefulness of the human body. Due to the special requirements of this group it is sometimes more difficult to locate housing to support their needs.
There are six different categories of disabilities as defined by the data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).
- Hearing disability: The person is deaf or has serious difficulty hearing
- Visual disability: The person is blind or has difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses
- Cognitive disability: Due to a physical, mental or emotional condition, the person has serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Ambulatory disability: A person who cannot stand / walk or has serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs
- Self-Care disability: A person who has difficulty dressing or bathing
- Independent living disability: Due to a physical, mental or emotional condition, the person has difficulty with the cognitive ability to run errands or make small decisions.
In the 2015 Annual Disability Status Report for Florida, there were over 2.6 million individuals of all ages that reported one or more of these disabilities. The highest prevalence rate was for Ambulatory Disability, at 7.6 percent (or 197,600 Floridians). Visual Disability had the lowest prevalence rate at 2.4 percent.
Understanding how to identify these patients is key in being able to target this niche. Helping to solve housing issues for certain afflictions with higher prevalence rates and having housing program knowledge creates opportunities for these special need clients.
There are over 197,000 Floridians with Ambulatory disabilities that require special housing.
Local Veterans Affairs is one such place that has a core mission to assist veterans and their dependents in obtaining benefits to which they are entitled from federal and state agencies. In the same 2015 study, the percentage of working-age civilian veterans with a VA determined Service-Connected Disability in Florida was 24 percent.
The Veterans Administration offers grant based programs intended to help those with service-connected afflictions or that fit into one of the six disability categories. Some of these include Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) or head trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig ’s disease and blindness.
The VA offers three different programs including Special Adaptive Housing, Special Housing Adaptation and Home Improvement and Structural Alterations. These grants are intended to equip homes with a barrier-free living environment, such as a wheelchair accessible home, that affords Veterans a level of independent living they may not otherwise enjoy.
However, the benefits of the grant can also allow Veterans to pay closing costs or help to pay down their mortgages. These service-connected veterans would also benefit from the exclusion from property taxes, primary mortgage insurance and down payment that is eliminated with VA loans. These savings each month can help Veterans to upgrade to safer communities with more amenities. This dramatically helps those Veterans suffering with PTSD and reduces the thoughts of traumatic events.
The maximum allowable grant benefit for Special Adaptive Housing is $77,307.
Disease as a Bridge
Sometimes disease can be a bridge to other 7D categories such as debt and death. A 2011, Harvard Study found that more than half of all personal bankruptcy filings were due to medical bills. A 2014, United Health Foundation study found Florida ranked 48th in residential deaths due to lack of health insurance.
More Americans lacked health insurance coverage in 2011 than in any year since the Gallup and Healthways started tracking this statistic. Nationally, nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance, according to a recent study published by the American Journal of Public Health.
The study, conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts. This is up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993. One advantage of home ownership is access to equity in times when unexpected bills arise. In other cases, clients will have the need to dispose of property because they cannot afford these liabilities.