R-1: Home and Community Accessibility in the American Housing Survey (AHS)

The Bottom Line

Affordable, accessible housing and transportation are two of the largest factors that influence community living for people with disabilities. In this study, data from the American Housing Survey (AHS) was used to identify the estimates of people with disabilities nationwide who lack accessible housing and/or transportation. Advocates and policymakers can then use this new information to improve compliance with existing housing and transportation laws. 

Although research on the environmental factors that contribute to disability and participation are increasing rapidly, little research has focused on the state of housing and accessibility. The home is the starting place of community participation, but little is known about the basic “front door” access, access to transportation, housing and neighborhood quality, and prevalence of accessibility features. 

We examined American Housing Survey data from 2009 and 2011 to examine these questions. The American Housing Survey (AHS) provides a current and continuous series of data on selected housing and demographic characteristics. The survey is used to assess housing needs and inform housing policy. Both occupied and vacant housing units are surveyed. The survey is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is conducted biennially in odd numbered years. 

In 2009, disability screening questions from the American Community Survey were added to the AHS. Of the total weighted sample of households with individuals ages18-65 (n= 94,479,947 million  households) 7,340,381 million reported having at least one person with a disability. Overall, these individuals reported poor home access. 

For example, more than 50% reported at least one step at the entrance to their home and 13% (nearly a million people) live at least one floor above the ground level and do not have access to a working elevator. Clearly, community participation can be greatly improved with changes in housing policy that improve home access for people with mobility impairments. The hope is that the results of this research will inform national housing and transportation policies as well as future development of the housing survey itself.

Results of this study will guide our R-9 housing and advocacy intervention project by clearly describing demographics of the target population.

This is one of six projects that uses existing data to analyze how barriers to and experiences of community living may differ across socio-demographic and geographic groups.

Project Background: Purpose of the Study, Anticipated Benefits, Methods and Hypotheses

More Information about the Design of the Research: Sample, Data Collection and Measurement, Data Analysis

Project Investigators: Craig Ravesloot, PhD and Tom Seekins, PhD

Housing Infographics

U.S. Housing - Urban and Rural (PDF available upon request)

U.S. Rural Housing (PDF available upon request)