Thursday, May 10
Interviews and Photos 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
916 Hermitage Ridge
Hermitage TN 37076
Volunteers from Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) are teaming up May 10 with United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee to commemorate construction of the partnership’s 2,000th wheelchair ramp on to the home of a person with a disability.
The ramp will benefit Buddy, a 24-year-old young man who has a severe mobility disability. Buddy’s disability affects his motor coordination at all levels, meaning he cannot walk or perform any tasks that involve dexterity. Buddy lives in the home with his parents who provide his living supports. He looks forward to having a wheelchair ramp so he can use a power wheelchair to enter and exit his home independently.
The collaboration between THDA, UCP and a variety of statewide organizations has addressed an immense unmet need in Tennessee for persons of low income who have disabilities and have no way to get in and out of their homes without this essential accommodation. Through the program, wheelchair ramps are constructed for people who meet program qualifications. THDA dollars have paid for lumber and supplies. UCP and the partner agencies coordinate the ramp builds and provide labor.
According to UCP Executive Director Deana Claiborne, the long economic downturn has been especially hard on people with disabilities and their families, leading to increased waiting lists in the program. “The financial pressure on families is immense when you consider home modifications, extra healthcare expenses, durable medical equipment, and caregiving supports.” A wheelchair ramp gives a person the most basic access to the community, making it possible to participate in transportation, work, school, worship, healthcare, grocery shopping, and many other activities that people often take for granted.
A well-designed wheelchair ramp ensures the safety of both the person with a disability and the caregiver who would otherwise have to lift the individual up and down steps. UCP builds ramps in the Middle Tennessee area and coordinates ramp building through a variety of partner agencies across other areas of the state.
The program needs the financial assistance of donors in order to meet the unmet need. “We just spent our last dollars in the current THDA grant,” says UCP Home Access Director John Pickett, “But we have a statewide waiting list of 122 applications.” The cost of lumber and supplies for an average ramp is $754. An additional $92,000 is needed just to acquire supplies for people on the waiting lists. That doesn’t include labor costs and the additional need, taking into account new applications that arrive every day.