MORGANTOW, W. Va.– Monongalia County commissioners have entered into a partnership with Disability Rights West Virginia and the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness to help people with mobility problems find housing.
Senior Advocate with Disability West Virginia Gina Desmond said disabled people suffering from homelessness have unique needs that are not being met. Desmond said there are very few rental properties available that first floor that are handicapped accessible or handicapped accessible.
“Individuals with disabilities meet additional obstacles, especially those with mobility impairments or are wheelchair users,” Desmond said.
Beginning in 2021, the Coalition to End Homelessness provided accessible housing (a hotel) to 11 disabled people with an average stay . The average stay for 140 days at a cost of $8,500.
“Two of those individuals were from Monongalia County, and over one year later one of those individuals remains in a hotel costing over $25,000,” Desmond said. “This far exceeds the cost of monthly rent.”
The partnership will identify centrally located rental properties and landlords willing to begin the process to qualify. The landlord would work directly with the team to secure the grant and learn important information about working with people with disabilities.
“We can look for and apply for funds to assist landlords with the cost of modifying the units,” Desmond said. “Disability Rights of West Virginia would be available to provide technical assistance regarding house rights and responsibilities for both tenants and landlords as well as accessibility standards.”
Commissioners want to get the program underway as soon as possible. Commissioner Tom Bloom said any of the commissioners will be available to answer questions about the program and look at properties. .
“We’ll go out to visit it and see if it is near a bus line and meets the other requirements. So, the three of us will get together to just see if it’s possible,” Bloom said. “There are funds available, and that would be step two.”
Bloom compared this effort to the Home for the Holidays program in 2019. That program started in November with a goal of placing 15 families in 15 homes by December 25 and succeeded.
“I believe there are a dozen individuals right now that could use it,” Bloom said. “Our goal would be place six people in a tear or a dozen in a year.”