Housing of the future

Are new homes about to become more user-friendly? Housing initiatives call for basic access of newly constructed homes.

Most houses in Canada have steps at the entrance and lack basic access features such as ramps or elevators. But this may change as more housing initiatives reflect the aging demographic in Canada and around the world.

One such initiative, Visitable Housing in Canada, aims to create a vibrant housing sector that constructs attractive, affordable, accessible and sustainable housing to meet the needs of all Canadians. “We imagine housing that supports vibrant, socially inclusive communities that are livable at all stages of life,” the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies (CCDS) states on its Visitability Canada website.

What is visitable housing?
Visitability incorporates minimum design standards for accessibility in newly constructed single family homes so that people can more easily visit or live in their home as physical mobility changes over time. Visitable housing must have at minimum the following features:

• A non-step entrance at the front, back or side entrance of the house (located on an accessible route from the street)
• Wider doorways on all main floor doors (minimum 32 inch or 813 mm clear door opening)
• A half bath on the main floor that includes a sink, toilet and a wider doorway

These minimum guidelines would allow everyone regardless of mobility to at least visit someone else’s home, use the washroom and exit the home.

Benefits of visitability
The CCDS lists these benefits of visitable housing:

• More opportunities for social interaction and inclusive, livable communities
• More seniors will be able to age in place and remain in their own homes
• A reduction in environmental and monetary costs due to home renovations when mobility changes
• A reduction in stair-related injuries, as well as the length of hospital visits in so much as patients can go home sooner because of accessibility features.

Visitability can also be incorporated with other building innovation such as affordable design, energy efficient housing and green design.

As part of its effort on visitable housing, the Canadian Centre on Disability is conducting a survey to determine what opportunities and barriers exist for more accessible new housing across the country. If you would like to participate in the survey, click here.

The global aging demographic
The world’s population has evolved from a state of high birth and death rates to one characterized by low birth and death rates. The growing population of older persons is unprecedented in the history of civilization. One out of every ten persons is now 60 years or older; by 2050, one out of five will be over 60; and by 2150, one out of three persons will be 60 years or older, according to the United Nations.

The demographic revolution is predicted to continue well into the coming centuries.

LINKS
http://www.visitablehousingcanada.com
http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing/agewpop.htm

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