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Opening the Door to Affordable, Accessible TN Housing

PHOTO: There are 1 million individuals with disabilities in Tennessee, and one of their biggest struggles is finding housing that is both affordable and accessible. Photo credit: David Antis
PHOTO: There are 1 million individuals with disabilities in Tennessee, and one of their biggest struggles is finding housing that is both affordable and accessible. Photo credit: David Antis
April 10, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Finding affordable housing is a struggle for many across Tennessee, but for people with disabilities the barriers are even higher, and a forum Friday looks to make some inroads on the issue.

According to Emily Hoskins, independent living specialist at the Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee, the biggest problem right now is a severe lack of housing that is accessible.

"The reality, then, of finding an apartment that is accessible, that I can get into, or that has a bathroom big enough for my wheelchair, that is incredibly hard," she said. "It's actually a lot harder than you would think."

According to the Tennessee Disability Coalition, there are about a million individuals with disabilities in the state. On average, they're more likely to be unemployed and in poverty than the rest of the population.

While solving the issues around affordability is a more complex puzzle, Hoskins said increasing the amount of accessible housing is achievable.

"It's just a matter of developers and designers and whatnot understanding that need and really kind of thinking about these things when designing homes and apartment complexes."

She added that increasing accessibility benefits more than just those with disabilities.

"That's good for a person in a wheelchair. That's good for your 87-year-old grandmother who maybe doesn't walk as easily as she used to," Hoskins said. "That's good for even, you know ... young families have these big strollers. They're carting their kids around."

Friday's forum is at the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency in Nashville. It's focused on getting input on housing needs from organizations, advocates, family members and consumers.

More information is at TNDisability.org.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN