"Real Life Disabled Housing Solutions"
Contributed by: Christine Messaros

When diagnosed with a chronic disease that leaves you physically overwhelmed, there is definitely the mental impact of grieving over the lost health and living a new way of life with illness.  Whether it was anticipated or not, when hit with chronic illness, you will find that the life you once knew is gone, and preparation for your new lifestyle needs will be critical in providing yourself quality of life.

There are many needs that you once thought were absolutely necessary that are no longer such, and other needs you will now find more important.   For example, if keeping your home was a big priority to you, once you become chronically ill, cleaning the house can most likely go way down on the list of chores to complete.  Most individuals who become so ill find that one of the big stressors is the house.  The house may be harder to manage in cleaning due to the size or complexity (stairs) of getting around the home.  Also a lower income resulting from the loss of a job, can lead to financial burdens by keeping your present home.   To manage your illness and quality of life means looking at your housing needs and developing a list of what is a must and what you can live without.  Those who are ill must strive to keep their health as stable as possible, and this is definitely an area that can help or hurt you depending on your ability to assess it properly.

When I first became disabled I was a single mother, renting a home for my daughter and myself.  Not knowing what were important considerations like a home with stairs or one level, choosing rent that was designed for multi-incomes, and depending on “friends” to be viable roommates to help with the rent were all wrong decisions that I had to learn the hard way.  My co-tenant left suddenly after only one month into the rental agreement.   I was left with an oversized home with a huge upper level where my daughter’s bedroom was, and now a contract to carry out despite my roommate's vanishing act.  This was a very harsh lesson, but it was the best lesson I could learn.

Many times I hear people who are disabled tell me they are going through foreclosure.  It hurts to have more taken away. like your home, after incurring a loss in health.  However. affordability and housing needs that fit your lifestyle are imperative.  Once I learned my harsh lesson, I decided to purchase an affordable home, and a small one even though it was not what I had dreamed for me and my daughter.  I must have looked at 50 or more homes for sale before buying one.  I had to have a home that was affordable, was big enough for our needs but small enough for me to manage.  Additionally, where my bedroom was located was one of the most important criteria in finding the right house.  I needed a bedroom that had a bathroom very close, but be able to reach the kitchen with just a few steps.  The two-story home I lived in prior to buying, required me to walk through two rooms to get to the kitchen.  It didn’t take long before I knew that was an adjustment I needed to make.   When I found the home that had the small yard, the small square footage but the arrangement and required rooms to fit our lifestyle, I was sold.  

To this day I am thrilled to have a home that makes me feel so much more comfortable and within my limits of capability.  I have a mortgage payment that is within my budget, and even with further loss of some income from my long term disability provider, I still had some gap in my budget to afford my mortgage.   I had to give up a lake home that didn’t fit my health needs and had an outrageous rent.  However, I am not haunted anymore by a home that is overwhelming just to walk through or to get to my daughter’s room.  The cleaning required for the huge two-story home is finally over.  Instead, I have what I need and within my means.  Accepting my new lifestyle, along with a home that offered me the needed quality of life has made my life much better, and my family's also.

I hope my experience helps you cope with the decision of finding affordable, accessible housing that meeting your needs.

Christine Messaros

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     My goal is to help you restore your peace of mind about where you live and the house you live in... and isn't that something we all deserve?

Happy House Hunting!

Brian Therrien
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