July marks the 26th anniversary of the ground-breaking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which provides equal opportunities for the disabled in employment, transportation, public accommodation, and communication. The ADA has made it far easier for people with disabilities to receive an education, get a job, and achieve a sense of self-fulfillment through work. And those changes in turn are making it more possible for the disabled to afford renovations at home to make their lives easier.
The disabled still trail in earnings power; According to a 2014 American Community Survey, 64.5% of people with disabilities are living above 150% of the poverty level, compared to the 77.2% for total civilian noninstitutionalized population. But more than 30% of people with disabilities are making more than $35,000 a year, beating the median yearly earnings of $31,425 for people with no disability. With the help of historically low interest rates and above-median annual incomes, many people with disabilities can afford a home-remodeling project at some point of their life.
In the map below, we've highlighted the top 25 MSAs in the U.S. where the largest share of the disabled population (within each MSA) live at least 150% above the poverty line. Indeed, living above the poverty line does not necessarily mean everyone is ready to buy or remodel a home, but it could give remodeling professionals an indication of where to target potential clients who need to remodel their home to make it more accessible.
Many of the top 25 markets displayed above are large metropolitan areas with better work opportunities, richer medical resources, and more disability-friendly public facilities. They also are likely to contain large numbers of boomers--both able-bodied and disabled--who would like to stay in their current home and are becoming aware of trends in universal design and the importance of accessibility in home.
According to a report by the Census Bureau, 56.7 million people with a disability lived in the U.S. as of 2010, accounting for 19% of the total population. That figure, which increased by 2.2 million between 2005 and 2010, is expected to continue to grow in the future, creating a huge demand for accessible homes and opening up a valuable market for remodelers.