Iowa’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor are calling for a building boom in housing for Iowa’s mentally and physically disabled. Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson says 19-thousand low-income Iowans with a disability need housing that fits their needs. There’s to be a housing summit in March to discuss the goal of having one-thousand Iowa communities with independent living communities for the mentally and physically disabled.The Governor has signed an executive order calling for the removal of barriers in state regulations that make it more difficult to provide housing for the mentally and physically challenged. Steve Muller, the executive director of group homes for people with autism, says the fire code for group homes is the same as for nursing homes, and those rules doesn’t make sense for his new duplex for four kids with autism. He says they are waking the residents to practice for the potential of a fire more times than they need to.Pederson, who’s son has autism, helped found an independent living village for 24 adults with autism, and found out first-hand about the need for regulatory reform.Connie Fanselow of the Legal Center for Special Education in Des Moines says there’s a need for more “universal design” in building codes and flexibility in rules.The state has received a small federal grant to build more housing for the mentally disabled, and Pederson says more grants as well as tax credits are available for building low-income housing that serves the mentally disabled.
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