San Antonio Housing Trust launches new committee to address unique housing need of older adults and people with disabilities

The new Sustainability and Universal Design Committee aims to establish thoughtful design guidelines for future San Antonio Housing Trust Multi-family projects.

(San Antonio, TX) – Affordable housing options that accommodate an aging population and those with disabilities are scarce and often provide the bare-minimum, which is why the San Antonio Housing Trust’s new Sustainable and Universal Design Committee (SUDC) was formed. Over the coming months, the new committee will work to establish a set of design guidelines that are inclusive to all, regardless of age or ability while ensuring the built environment meets long term challenges associated with extreme weather.

The design guidelines created by the SUDC will aim to achieve four pillars of design to ensure maximum long-term benefits to San Antonio Housing Trust residents:

  • Universal Design – Universal design is a process of designing something to be functional as possible for as many people as possible.
  • Sustainable Design – Sustainability is a concept traditionally applied to “building green”. Green building encourages a whole-systems approach through design and building techniques to offer both environmental and financial benefits which also assists in long term affordability.
  • Resilient Design – Resiliency is focused on responding to changing weather events due to the impacts of climate change. The housing created should be resilient to survive storms, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • Healthy Design – Healthy design includes elements such as air quality, water quality, green cleaning, access to nature/connectivity, movement, waste, and occupant comfort.

The SUDC is made up of members from the SAHT board, Successful Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA), nonprofit and for-profit development community, local architectural design firms, and persons with lived experiences with various forms of disabilities.

“We need to design our homes to improve livability for our aging residents, improve livability for those who are or become disabled, and we need to plan for the extreme weather that we are experiencing more and more each year. We need to think ahead to prevent future costs that come with being forced to retrofit after the fact.”, says Pete Alanis, Executive Director of the SAHT.

“But it goes beyond financial cost. There is a substantial social cost when families can’t visit each other because a relative with a wheelchair and walker can’t get through the door, can’t access the restrooms, can’t navigate through the older designed living spaces. There is a substantial social cost when a home isn’t designed to meet the needs of the resident when a life changing event occurs and either traps or forces out the resident. The status quo must change. This committee will ensure the conversation around inclusive, sustainable, and livable housing is heard loud and clear with our design and development community.”


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