Re: upstairs in common house and wheelchair accessibility
From: Fred H. Olson (
Date: Mon, 6 Apr 1998 17:29:48 -0500
Carl M. Hay heyheyhay [at] Cascadia Commons Cohousing
is the author of the message below but due to a problem it was posted
by the Fred the list manager: owner-cohousing-L [at]
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

I hope you don't take this too personally, but when you say that you are
trying to get upstairs space in your common house that is not wheelchair
accessible, you are telling me that you don't want me (and all other
wheelchair users) to use that space.  As a wheelchair user who is working my
butt off to make cohousing happen in Portland, your question was mighty hard
to hear.

As the old song goes, "it ain't too hard to get along with somebody else's
troubles--they don't make you lose any sleep at night."  It's easy to have the
right values when they aren't costing you any money or trouble.  When they
start hitting home, we all start squirming and trying to figure ways out of or
around them.

I would encourage you to think about all the people that you will exclude if
you make the upper floors of your common house accessible only to people who
can climb a set of stairs.  People with babies and strollers; people with
arthritis, or other joint diseases; you, if you have an accident or illness;
anybody who is getting older are people at risk of being excluded.

At Cascadia Commons, we have had to confront the issue of wheelchair
accessibility head on, primarily, because I am a member of the group.  I
asked, from the start, that each unit be wheelchair accessible for the non-
bedroom areas.  We were not able to achieve that goal, and our final plan
calls for 5 units to be upstairs without wheelchair access.  That means that 5
people that I love, and would like to have spontaneous visits with will be out
of reach for me.  That's hard for me to live with, and we agonized over that
decision, and could not resolve it.  At least we have the satisfaction of
having wrestled with it, and being defeated by it and the budget.

We have planned a Common House with 2 floors.  The upper floor will be
accessed by both stairs and a lift.  We estimate the cost of the lift to be
between $10,000 and $15,000.  That works out to about $500 per household.  We
are committed to finding a place in the budget for that.

Other solutions are possible.  At Puget Ridge, I was able to get to both
floors of their Common House by using a path around the building.  It's not
perfect, because I had to go outdoors to go from one floor to another, and
it's another way in which I feel separated from my brothers and sisters, but
it can be an option.

Yours is a situation that calls for creative thinking to address the problem,
rather than creative thinking about how to get around it.  Come on!  You can
do it!

Carl M. Hay, Member
Cascadia Commons Cohousing

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.