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Accessibility of America’s Housing Stock: Analysis of the 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS)


Authors: Bo’sher, Luke     Chan, Sewin     Ellen, Ingrid Gould     Karfunkel, Brian     Liao, Hsi-Ling    

Report Acceptance Date: March 2015 (133 pages)

Posted Date: May 26, 2015

The American Housing Survey (AHS) is the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States. Since 2009, AHS has included six core disability questions used in the American Community Survey. The questions address hearing, visual, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living difficulties for each household member. For 2011, AHS added a topical module on accessibility. The module asked about the presence of accessibility features in housing units, including wheelchair accessibility features, and whether the accessibility features were used or not. Together, these data provide an unprecedented opportunity to examine the accessibility of the U.S. housing stock and to ask whether people with disabilities reside in accessible homes.

In this report, we present summary measures of housing accessibility based on the 2011 AHS. To develop these summary measures, we examined United States (U.S.) and international standards and regulations regarding housing accessibility, reviewed the relevant literature, and conducted interviews with a set of disability and housing design experts. These interviews are further described in appendix A. Based on these summary measures, we describe how accessibility varies by housing market characteristics as well as resident characteristics such as age, disability status, and income. We also present evidence on the relationship between the need for and availability of accessible housing units, taking affordability of accessible units into account.

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