Aging Populations Inspire 'Universal Design' HousingBy Taylor, Charles; County News,
Publication Date: January 15, 2007
Article reports on efforts in two counties in the suburban Washington, DC area to promote the concept of Universal Design (UD) in homebuilding. These efforts were spurred in part by AARP surveys showing that the vast majority of its members want to age in place in their home or community. Maryland’s Howard County has established a zoning category for “active adult” housing designed and sold to anyone over age 55, incorporating UD features to be adaptable for residents with mobility and functional limitations resulting from aging. Active adult housing is exempt from the county’s rule that forbids the building of single-family homes in areas where schools are over capacity. The county’s UD Guidelines specify features such as no-step access to a home’s front door or alternative entrance; complete living area including master bedroom and bath on first-level floor, or elevator access for multi-story apartments; and lever handles on doors. Prince William County in Virginia hosted a symposium in 2005 that brought together over 160 professionals, including architects and home builders, to educate officials about UD. A UD demonstration house was also constructed in the county, with accessible features such as a lower, wheelchair-accessible kitchen sink, stairs with the lip of each step stained a darker color for visibility, and stacked closets on the lower and upper floor which could be converted to an elevator shaft as needed.
Published by: National Association of Counties (NACo) (Website:http://www.naco.org/)
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