Mission and History
Home Free Home is dedicated to promoting architectural design solutions to enhance the independence and well being of people with disabilities. HFH recruits volunteer architects and university students to design barrier-free accessible home renovations that allow people with disabilities to live in greater safety and ease. It is the vision of the organization’s founders that good universal design and even minimal changes in the home environment can create dramatic benefits in the daily life of physically challenged people and their families. HFH functions to encourage and amplify volunteer efforts to create accessible homes. HomeFreeHome is the “not-so-extreme makeover, that makes a big difference”.
In 2000, architect, Laura Montllor found out firsthand how difficult it is to live in a house that is not set up for the physically disabled. She was ill with limited mobility for six months, she lived on the ground floor of her house and learned how living in a conventionally designed house can impede even the simplest daily living function. This experience both changed her perspective and motivated her to investigate further.
There is a substantial gap between the need for and the supply of accessible housing. There are few federal and state programs available and only a very few charities dealing specifically with home accessibility. In general, the home building industry has lagged behind and has been slow to incorporate “universal design” principals. The ADA does not apply to private residences. Few government statutes and only a very few local building ordinances require home accessibility.
Very dangerous situations are faced every day by thousands of people, who must adjust to the difficult challenge of living with a physical disability. The design of their homes is causing hazardous conditions. Living in a conventionally designed house has many barriers such as, steps at the front entry, narrow doors, tight hallways and small inaccessible bathrooms. However, by tapping into the creative power of architects there are many possibilities for inspired new design solutions to these commonplace barriers.
Currently people have nowhere to turn for affordable professional help in redesigning their homes for accessibility. HomeFreeHome was created to fill this need. There are no organizations that duplicate the HomeFreeHome program of using volunteer architects. HFH unifies existing scattered support activities, often taken on pro bono by local architects, contractors, church or civic groups.
HFH matches up physically challenged clients with local HFH volunteer teams of architects and university students. Our teams create designs for small-scale construction projects – ramps, accessible bathrooms and kitchens.
The idea for a volunteer organization started with casual discussions between a group of architects and friends in the summer of 2006. HomeFreeHome, Inc. was formed as a New York state not-for-profit in November 2006. The current Board of Directors is comprised of two (2) architects, an attorney, an accountant and financial planner, an educator and a paralegal.
Our long-term goal is that all physically disabled people will be able to find us easily through the HFH website and connect to the local professional design help they need. We will have an established pool of architects and college student volunteers and we will be very visible in the disabled community. Eventually, we plan to reach a national level and be active in all 50 states.