Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2000

Wheelchair accessibility behind legislative push

Bill would set aside state funds for some renovations

October 12, 2000


Bob Mikesic used his own money to renovate his house so he could get around in his wheelchair.

The 49-year-old Lawrence man hopes the Kansas Legislature will pass a bill that will pay for wheelchair accessibility renovations in some homes.

"People with disabilities pay state taxes, and part of those taxes are used to pay for affordable housing," he said.

Mikesic testified Wednesday before the Kansas Legislature's Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs.

The committee is considering a bill that would require many single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes built or renovated with state or federal funds to meet basic accessibility standards.

"This is an incremental step," Mikesic said of the bill, which was passed by the Senate in the last legislative session and now needs to have House approval. "In the United Kingdom all new single-family homes are required to be accessible."

Mikesic spent $16,000 to renovate his home. It would not be covered under the bill but Mikesic wanted to use it as an example for legislators.

"This is the degree to which people would have to go," said Mikesic, who is advocacy coordinator for Independence Inc. in Lawrence.

In Lawrence, homes built through Tenants to Homeowners Inc., a Community Housing Development Organization, are handicapped-accessible, Mikesic said.

Paralyzed since a 1968 car accident, Mikesic moved into his current home three years ago. He said he needed to widen bedroom and bathroom doors, install a roll-in shower and make other improvements.

There are up to 143,000 Kansans in need of housing that is accessible to the disabled, he said. Many of them are in low-income first-homebuyer programs that receive funds from the state, Mikesic said.

Frail and elderly persons also might benefit from the legislation, he said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.