It was 26 years this month that the ground-breaking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect. That legislation's mandates in employment, transportation, public accommodation, and communication didn't just make it easier for people with disabilities to receive an education and get a job. It also has created an ever-growing group of disabled--combined with the ever-aging cohort of baby boomers--who will want to remodel their homes so they can overcome their limitations. Whether you call it aging-in-place, universal design, or some other term, this housing market trend is sure to grow, so it's important that you and your customers know more about it.
According to a report by the Census Bureau, 56.7 million people with a disability lived in the U.S. as of 2010, accounting for 19% of the total population. That figure, which increased by 2.2 million between 2005 and 2010, is expected to continue to grow in the future, creating a huge demand for accessible homes.
This market can be more valuable and profitable than many people first thought. Thanks to the ADA, people with disabilities are empowered to be employed and grow a fortune, although a wealth gap is still present.
According to a 2014 American Community Survey, 64.5% of people with disabilities are living above 150% of the poverty level, compared to the 77.2% for total civilian noninstitutionalized population. More than 30% of people with disabilities are making more than $35,000 a year, beating the median yearly earnings of $31,425 for people with no disability. With the help of historically low interest rates and above-median annual incomes, many people with disabilities can afford a home-remodeling project at some point of their life.
In the map shown above, we've highlighted the top 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S. where the largest share of the disabled population (within each MSA) live at least 150% above the poverty line. Indeed, living above the poverty line does not necessarily mean everyone is ready to buy or remodel a home, but it could give remodeling professionals an indication of where to target potential clients who need to remodel their home to make it more accessible.
The ADA has had an impact on the lives of the disabled and Americans as a whole. Builders, architects, and other professionals in many, if not all, fields of the construction world have been influenced by this act. Despite the fact that universal design and the importance of accessibility in the home has come to the forefront as the boomer population starts to retire, people with disabilities are still underserved in the construction world.