The Ohio House Ways and Means Committee took testimony January 26 relative to HB 332 which would authorize a nonrefundable income tax credit for the purchase or construction of an accessible home or for the renovation of a home to improve its accessibility.

Testimony in support to HB332 was given by Elizabeth Thompson, a multiple sclerosis (MS) activist and ambassador for the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society; Sue Hetrick, public policy director for the Ability Center of Greater Toledo; and Paul Jarvis, public policy staff person for the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. Written testimony was submitted by Robert Doersam, vice chair of the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council.

 Thompson described the access and mobility challenges she faces in her home which was built in 1964. She said her husband has been able to install a few modifications to help her navigate steps and narrow hallways and doorways.

Hetrick said, “Disability does not discriminate based on age, race or socio-economic status.” She called HB332 “a first step,” and said the goal should be for visitability standards to be mandatory, across-the-board for all new all single family residences.

Jarvis said modifying existing homes is much more expensive than including visitability standards in the original design and construction. He said, “Indirectly, the tax credit offered for new home construction will bring awareness to many homeowners who may have never considered the potential need for accessibility in their own homes, or the impact a lack of access can have on their friends and loved ones.”

Doersam wrote, “[HB332] would provide a significant incentive to homebuilders to update and upgrade at least some of their floor plans, which should be a significant help to the many Ohioans who, like me, would like to age at home.”