Public Education Issues

We at the Action Committee of People with Disabiities are 
actively involved in public education about issues 
challenging people with disabilities.  Through participation 
with other community groups and at the different levels of 
government, people with disabilities are working to remove 
barriers which prevent full participation and integration to 
community life.

The extent to which a condition is disabling depends upon 
the social, physical and economic environment. For example, 
curb cuts and accessible public transit make mobility around 
the community possible for those using wheelchairs.  

Appropriate housing design features can make it possible for 
a person with disabilities to use a kitchen.  If you cant 
reach facets, outlets, work areas, storage or appliances the 
design of the kitchen limits your independence. 

When others discriminate against you by assuming you lack 
abilities and rights due to your disability, is it the 
disability limiting your opportunity?   Many of the housing 
issues experienced by people with disabilities are 
challenges held in common with many members of the 

Affordability is one along with the desire for choices in 
housing to suit ones individual and family needs.  

Discrimination is another barrier experienced by many 
members of our community.

People living with disabilities have additional challenges 
and through public education, awareness of these issues and 
that solutions for these issues will be beneficial for the 
entire community is growing.  If you or a member of your 
family becomes physically disabled, would your home be 
accessible?  Was your home designed and constructed to be 
easily and economically adapted?  Should a friend or 
relative become disabled, could they visit your home?  

We would like to use this forum to educate others about 
housing issues experienced by people living with 
disabilities, answer questions and encourage all members of 
our community to advocate for the rights of people with 

For example, make sure the revised City of Victoria Official 
Community Plan includes strong policies to ensure an 
accessible community with an adequate supply of affordable 
and accessible housing.  Make certain City Council uses the 
Municipal Act to increase the number of accessible housing 
units in new developments.

Write to your MLA and request that the Home Adaptations for 
Seniors Independence Program (HASI) be re-instated and 
demand that this grant program be available for people with 
disabilities. This program provided grants for such items as 
grab bars in washrooms to make homes more livable.  

Write to your MP and demand that CHMC become involved again 
in building new social housing.  Ask the Federal Government 
to continue the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance 
Program, which gives forgivable loans to homeowners and 
landlords to make homes accessible, and is due to end in 
December, 1995.  

These are a few examples of ways all of us can join forces 
towards the common aim of affordable and accessible housing 
for everyone in our community.

What are some of the public education issues that need to be 
addressed around the subject of housing and people with 

A person may be disadvantaged in locating housing because of 
transportation problems: e.g. a person, who, by reason of 
their disability, cannot drive ore use a bus.  Or the person 
may, because of their disability, not be able to obtain a 
drivers license. Other individuals may need to rely on 
attendants, homemakers, guide dogs or service animals. Some 
individuals who, by reason of their disability, suffer from 
disorientation or confusion.  They may have difficulty 
following maps or experience orientation problems with 
directions.  These individuals may need assistance in 
locating housing.

A person may be disadvantaged in securing housing because of 
discrimination barriers from prospective landlords or 
property managers.  This discrimination may be simply due to 
a lack of knowledge about people with disabilities or 
assumptions made based on the appearance or symptoms of the 

Some individuals are discriminated against due to their 
source of income or poor work history.  These kinds of 
discriminations against prospective tenants because of their 
disability are against the Human Rights Act and the 
Residential Tenancy Act.

A person may be disadvantaged because of their difficulty 
functioning in market housing or in retaining their housing.  
For example, persons who, by reason of their disability, 
require user-friendly housing which is in good repair and 
simple to maintain or may need accessible designs due to 
mobility or agility disabilities. Most people with 
disabilities need easy access to community resources and 
accessible transportation.

Some people with disabilities are frequently 
institutionalized or have difficulty in dealing with 
landlords because of disorientation or communication 
challenges due to their disabilities. 	 

Affordability is a major problem for many people with 
disabilities who, because of their disability, live in 
extreme poverty.  The unemployment rate for people with 
disabilities is very high.  Many have marginal employment, 
part-time or are unable to maintain full, steady employment 
due to their disability.  The monthly income for those on 
GAIN for handicapped is $771 of which $325.00 is allocated 
for shelter.  The average market rent for a 1 bedroom 
apartment in Victoria is $569.00 per month and a 2 bedroom 
apartment is $724.00 per month. (CHMC April, 1995).

There is a shortage of accessible housing units now and this 
will become a more severe crisis as the numbers of seniors 
increase. People with disabilities constitute approximately 
15% of the CRD population and nearly half of people over 65 
have some kind of disabling condition. Only 9% of 
disabilities are present at birth.  The majority of 
disabilities are due to illnesses, disease and accidents.  
We all have equal risk of becoming a person with a 
disability and affordable, accessible and suitable housing 
is a concern for the whole community.With the support and 
involvement of the whole community including people with 
disabilities, we can increase the number of accessible and 
affordable housing units. 

As a community, we can become aware of the problem issues 
experienced by people with disabilities and bring these 
issues to the attention of others. 

Ask the manager of your apartment building how many of the 
apartments are accessible.  If you know of any new 
developments being proposed for your neighborhood, find out 
whether it will include accessible units.

If you belong to any clubs or church groups involved in 
housing, ask whether the needs of people with disabilities 
are being considered in future housing projects.  

If you are or know anyone involved in the housing 
construction industry consider including accessible units or 
adaptable designs in planning developments.

If you are involved developing a housing project, consider a 
cooperative project with a non-profit society for including 
people with disabilities in developing housing.

If you are a landlord or have the space for a secondary 
suite, contact our consultants for an evaluation, 
information and recommendations for accessibility features 
and designs.