The Importance of Garages in Accessible Housing

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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What makes housing accessible?

I thought I knew all of the features that would make a dwelling accessible. Turns out I didn’t. The Department of Housing and Urban Development report on housing stock in America has a table that covers an extensive range of features. The table includes U.S. laws and international laws with respect to legal requirements.

Accessible housing: Garages

Attached garages should be on the prerequisite list for accessible housing. Very little housing in my city has attached garages; I got lucky and my Realtor found a ready-to-move-in accessible condo that accepted pets.

Snow: We don’t all live in sunny California

Even with an attached garage, I remain housebound until the contractor plows the driveway and street. At least with a condo, I do not have to shovel or clear my driveway and sidewalk myself. But there are not enough of these units.

I have balance difficulties from MS. Walking the 100 yards through snow and ice to get to a detached garage at a previous residence was fraught with potentially lethal danger.

When I was a rental tenant the parking was a paved lot. I cleared heavy wet snow many times from and around my car by myself. Landlords are not required to do so.

According to The Tenant Resource Center For Housing Justice in Wisconsin, “It might be possible that a tenant with a disability would ask for a ‘reasonable accommodation’ for a disability, which would exempt them from any responsibility to shovel a sidewalk.” They state that “If you have a disability, you can request that the landlord release you from a clause in the lease where you are not able to comply. However, the landlord can opt to charge you for the cost of that, depending on the exact situation.”

Unmet and unidentified need for attached garages or underground parking

I do not have the answer for how to solve the lack of accessible garages problem. The lack for EVERYONE starts the problem. Even a carport to avoid snow piling up on vehicles would help.

I am not aware of any rules or laws that would require attached garages as an issue of accessible housing. Time to make that change!


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