- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2000

When it comes to hunting for a house, just coming up with the down payment is enough hassle to deal with in the beginning. But imagine for a moment that you had to look for specific housing suitable for your needs.
Not just a two-car garage or a house with three bedrooms, but a home that meets the needs of a buyer who uses a wheelchair or crutches, has poor eyesight or is blind, or has some other physical disability.
For many disabled home shoppers, the search for a dwelling is hampered by the lack of housing inventory with the amenities to make the house more livable. Disabled renters have a new friend in the home search: AptsForRent.com (http://www.aptsforrent.com/naac/ ) has a new section on its Web site called the National Accessible Apartment Clearinghouse (NAAC).
The clearinghouse is a public service program of the National Apartment Association, the National Multi Housing Council, American Computer Software, the Fannie Mae Foundation and For Rent magazine.
With this new offering, NAAC says "the apartment industry has developed an effective means to connect individuals with disabilities with apartments that have been designed for, or adapted to meet their needs."
With accessible apartment listings in 43 states (including 155 major metropolitan areas), the group's database encompasses more than 46,000 apartments already accessible for disabled renters. In addition, there is no fee for users of the system property owner or renter.
The search process is rather simple. Either call the group's toll-free number (800/421-1221) or e-mail the group at clearinghouse@naahq.com with your request.
Each request should detail what special features are needed and what city and state are desired. Requests should include the prospective resident's complete name, phone and fax numbers (where available), complete mailing address, and e-mail address (where available). If you prefer snail mail, direct your inquiries to NAAC, 201 N. Union St., #200, Alexandria Va. 22314.
The NAAC Web sites says, "Prospective residents will then receive a listing of all the accessible apartments in their geographical area of choice. The listings include the accessible features of each apartment community and individual apartment home."
For property owners who own units that are already handicap accessible, there's an on-line form to print out, fill in and fax to NAAC to list accessible properties free with the organization.
Disabled buyers of accessible real estate can find help on line as well. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov/disabled.html) is a great place to start.
The site is loaded with housing assistance for potential disabled buyers. Links and documents on line include: supportive housing for persons with disabilities, accessible housing designs, independent living centers, modification funds, HUD's accessibility guidelines, questions and answers, and accessibility analysis of model building codes, just to name a few.
Some of the more interesting links include: the NAAC, the Center for Universal Design and the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access.
Housing should be available to everyone. With these resources, disabled home shoppers have a better chance of finding the home of their dreams.
M. Anthony Carr has covered real estate issues for 11 years. He is based in the Washington area. Direct your questions to macarr@nvar.com.

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