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Columbia's tight affordable housing market worse for those with disabilities

Affordable housing is in tight supply. For those with disabilities, finding the right home can be even more difficult.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When Ebony Deloach began her search for a new home, she knew it would be an uphill battle.

She was born with Cerebral Palsy, a disability impacting muscles and movement, and had been living with family, but craved something more.

"I've always been an independent person, but I wanted to be living it," Deloach said. "I am very blessed to be able to verbally communicate. I am just not able to walk."

Remote work in Columbia was her chance. A dream realized, she said. 

But, the apartment search was another road block.

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"A lot of them don't have a walk-in shower or they're not as affordable," Deloach said. "You kind of have to be working maybe two jobs to be able to afford housing."

Affordable housing is in tight supply in South Carolina and elsewhere in the nation. For those with disabilities, finding the right home can be even more challenging.

"You get on the waiting list that may have like two accessible apartments," Jerri Davison, Senior Vice President at Able SC, an advocacy group, said. "The other factor... often people with disabilities are discriminated against in employment settings.... So, you have to worry about that poverty cycle."

Houses are even more complicated, she said, as builders have fewer requirements to follow.

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"Accessibility features like... wide enough doorways and bedrooms on the first floor," Davison said, "and builders aren't really thinking about that when they're building in our community. So, it can make the housing search even more stressful."

Deloach was able to find a new home, but said she had to compromise on some accessibility features.

"The apartment that I'm living in right now, it doesn't have the accessible shower, but I do have personal care attendants to come in and care for me," Deloach said. "I hope that the community does see the need for accessible housing because people with disabilities are people first and we want to be able to live and work in our communities."

Able SC has been pushing for legislation to raise wages and improve housing options.

It joins other advocates for those with disabilities in hosting the annual Advocacy Day for Access and Independence April 13 at 10 a.m. at the State House. 

The public is invited to attend. It will also be live streamed on their Facebook Page. To learn more visit unlockingbarriers-sc.org.

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