Sunday, April 6, 2008

Several communities create accessible homes for disabled veterans

Newspapers in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts report on local efforts to create accessible housing for disabled veterans.

The Boston Globe reports on the four-year-old organization, Homes for Our Troops, which has provided houses for 25 disabled veterans and their families, and has hopes to build 100 more over the next three years.

Founder John Gonsalves says in the story, "that's not enough for the roughly 2,000 veterans who need handicap-accessible homes, but he's amazed at the rapid growth of an organization that started in his basement office: Billy Joel donated the revenues from his latest song, 'Christmas in Fallujah,' to Homes; President Bush has publicly praised the effort; and the group just received its biggest donation, an anonymous $10 million gift."

The Globe story April 6 profiled Brian Fountaine, who lost his legs in Iraq, (pictured above) and received a new house in Plymouth, Mass., which can accommodate a wheelchair with its design that includes wide doors and open floors.

"It's an indescribable feeling being 26 years old and owning your own house," Fountaine said in The Globe article. "It's a lot of weight off my shoulders."

A similar effort in northeastern Pennsylvania has resulted in an accessible home, and now the organization that built the house is looking for the disabled vet to move in.

The News-Leader reports that the organization, America Responds With Love, which was created in the 1980s, has helped victims of hurricanes, tsunamis and domestic violence, replaced shelters destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and found physicians who provide free medical care to needy patients in California.

Organization founder Rick McDonough now plans to help a disabled veteran in Pennsylvania. His organization hopes to give a $123,000 home, at a subsidized cost, to someone disabled in the course of military service. Others in the Foster Township community have contributed to the project, through cash donations and other necessities such as drilling a water well for the home site.

The home will be fully accessible according to universal design principles.