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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Universal Design Tax Credit in Howard County

       Last week the Howard County Council passed a bill introduced by Jen Terrasa and co-sponsored by Calvin Ball  to authorize property tax credit for homeowners installing certain universal design. Universal design features, such as access ramps, widened doorways, grab bars in bathrooms and stair glides or elevators, are aimed at making homes more accessible.
    As the Sun reported,
"The bill puts an annual cap of $100,000 on the total amount of credits the county can award. Credits would be granted in the order in which applications are received by the Department of Finance, with any coming in after the annual cap has been reached being deferred until the next fiscal year." 
    Last year I participated in interviewing senior citizens in a study for the Opting for Independence program .  Our interviews were designed to determine the preparedness of seniors being able to stay in their homes as they age.  Many of the common barriers mentioned were related to the physical challenges of going up stairs and managing the normal daily activities as they become physically frailer. Design features of this tax credit legislation can be part of the solution for keeping the homes of seniors physically safe. However, the idea that universal design is just for older persons or those with physical handicaps is a mistake.
I have installed lever door openers like the one above rather than door knobs simply because they are easier to open when your hands are full.
 Grab bars can assist a person of any age to get into and out of a slippery bath tub.  Wouldn't is make sense to have electrical outlets higher up on the wall if you had trouble bending over?

Video to which every parent can relate    

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