Conference to address special needs housing

Speakers to discuss accessibility for disabled

April 20, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Leon Faidley defines himself by his sense of independence.

The former truck drive, whose right leg was amputated in 1997, does all of his shopping from an electric wheelchair, volunteers at an adult day care center and recently planted his garden.

"I do everything for myself I can possibly do," Faidley said.

But when he tried to find an apartment accessible to the disabled in Carroll County, the 59-year-old Westminster resident was amazed by the lack of affordable, accessible places to live. He looked for a year until he found his barrier-free one-bedroom apartment.

"I found places but they didn't have ramps or they weren't handicapped accessible," he said. "It was rough."

Tomorrow, Faidley and others will talk about the state of housing for the elderly, the disabled and others with special needs in the county at Housing Conference 2001, sponsored by a coalition of government and nonprofit agencies.

"We're trying to take a very broad look at the subject," said Karen K. Blandford, manager of Westminster's Office of Housing and Community Development and a conference sponsor. "It's really an exploration of various aspects of our local housing and how we meet or don't meet the housing needs of people with special needs."

Speakers will include:

Michael Allen will speak about access to housing for people with disabilities under fair housing laws. Allen is the senior staff attorney and director of housing programs at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington.

Craig Smith of the state's Division of Rehabilitation Services will discuss housing adaptability.

Marge Wolf, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, will speak about the effect local policies such as smart growth and zoning have on housing for people with special needs.

Local residents will tell stories of their struggles to find and keep affordable housing.

The free event is open to residents, social workers, real estate agents, landlords and the public.

The conference will run from 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Westminster Senior Center, 125 Stoner Ave., Westminster. Information: 410- 848-2261.

Registration is encouraged.

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