242574 Assessing accessible housing availability in a rural state using Socialserve.com-- a searchable web-based interactive database

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meg Ann Traci, PhD , Rural Institute, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Ruth Licitra, BS , School of Public and Community Health Sciences, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Eleanor A. Smith, MA, M Ed , Concrete Change, Decatur, GA
Nina Miller, BS , Social Serve, Charlotte, NC
SocialServe.com, a national web-based nonprofit organization designed for low income renters searching for affordable housing, maintains 29 state websites. Landlords enter rental unit profiles into a database that they can activate for advertisement on-line. Profiles include: rent and move-in costs, acceptance of Section 8 vouchers and other rental assistance programs, age restrictions, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, presence of accessible parking, no step entries, and grab bars or reinforced walls for the installation of grab bars in bathrooms, etc. The Montana Department of Commerce began supporting Socialserve.com (a.k.a. MTHousingSearch.com) in 2009 as a housing search tool for Montana residents. Nearly 90% of MTHousingSearch.com listings are apartments. The Montana Disability and Health Program (MTDH) investigated SocialServe.com's potential for communicating about accessible housing and as a comprehensive statewide database that could be used to describe the availability of accessible and visitable rental housing. Initial analyses led to recommendations implemented by SocialServe.com. Subsequent analyses indicated that 4.8% of the apartments listed on the website were visitable (a minimum standard of access to people with mobility impairments) and that 12.5% of the units covered by the Fair Housing Act (e.g., multi-family buildings containing four or more units built and occupied after March 1991) met Fair Housing criteria. Presenters will describe grassroot efforts to increase landlord and service providers participation in MTHousingSearch.com; system improvements for accessible housing searches; Montana's need for accessible housing compared to the amount and types of accessible housing described in MTHousingSearch.com; and MTHousingSearch.com's potential as a comprehensive statewide database.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
• Understand definitions of accessible housing • Describe Socialserve.com-- a searchable web-based interactive database • Discuss limitations of using Socialserve.com as a comprehensive statewide database for rental housing

Keywords: Disability, Housing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Meg Traci was trained as an experimental psychologist at The University of Montana (UM) and specializes in both early childhood and life-span development. Dr. Traci works at The University of Montana Rural Institute: A Center for Excellence in Disability Education, Research, and Services (UMRI). Currently, she is detailed to direct a MDPHHS grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Montana Disability and Health Program: Living Well Under the Big Sky (MTDH). For ten years, Dr. Traci has been contributing to UMRI’s research and program development efforts targeting the prevention of secondary health conditions experienced by persons with physical and cognitive impairments and related disabilities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.