Resolved, that a special commission is hereby established for the purpose of making an investigation and study relative to the need for accessible homes for people with mobility limitations, including the elderly, returning veterans with disabilities, and households that include persons with disabilities. This commission shall review and evaluate options related to the application of the building standards known as Visitability, or Basic Home Design, which would expand opportunities for people with mobility limitations to visit their families, friends, and neighbors.
The commission shall examine the need to expand basic accessibility features in homes to ensure that people with mobility limitations have quality relationships with their families and friends, and the opportunity to fully integrate into their communities. The commission shall consider the extent to which accomplishing this requires an investment in building a housing supply that is responsive to the needs of people as they age and can adapt to the needs of future generations.
The commission shall file a report with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives not later than 180 days after first convening. The report shall (a) identify studies with demographic analyses that consider the proportion of present and future households having a member with a mobility limitation, (b) examine existing housing, and the design and rate of new housing being built that would allow a person with a mobility limitation to visit, or otherwise be accommodated temporarily, or for a longer period of time, (c) consider the total number of family members who would likely occupy a single housing unit over its functionally useful life, and the likelihood that during this time, someone with a mobility limitation would live there and would be better accommodated if the home had features related to Visitability, or Basic Home Design, and (d) review other studies and conduct such other analyses as the commission in its discretion believes are relevant to its determination of the need to expand the number of visitable homes in the commonwealth.
The commission report shall examine strategies to increase public awareness of (a) the need for visitable homes, (b) the options that would be effective in expanding the number of such homes that are available to meet this need in communities across the commonwealth, and (c) the costs and benefits of a successful program that accomplishes these ends.
The commission report shall review the policies underlying existing publicly financed and funded housing development programs in state government and in local jurisdictions in the commonwealth and determine the extent to which there are policies that have been adopted or are under consideration involving Visitability, or Basic Home Design, as a minimum accessibility standard, and consider the reasonable options for extending the coverage of such policies to all new housing produced in the commonwealth.
The commission report shall consider the changes in policy, regulation, and legislation necessary to meet the need for visitable homes in the commonwealth by the year 2040, or such other year as the commission may determine to be more appropriate during its review. It shall formulate its recommendations taking into account the best practices and experiences in other jurisdictions, including a comparison of the effectiveness of incentives versus adoption of building code standards that are central to Visitability, or Basic Home Design.
The commission shall consist of 3 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed co-chair of the commission; 3 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed co-chair of the commission; the Secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, or a designee; the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services, or a designee; the Director of the Office on Disability, or a designee; the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, or a designee; the Executive Director of the Architectural Access Board, or a designee; the Administrator of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards, or a designee; the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, or a designee; the Executive Director of the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts, or a designee; the Executive Director of the Boston Center for Independent Living, or a designee; the state director of AARP Massachusetts, or a designee; the Executive Director of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, or a designee; the President of the Home Builders Association of Massachusetts, or a designee; the President of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, or a designee; and an architect appointed by the governor who has considerable experience in single-family home accessibility issues related to Visitability, or Basic Home Design.
All appointments shall be made not later than 60 days after the effective date of this resolve. The chairpersons shall meet with the commission not later than 90 days after the effective date of this resolve, and shall meet not less than bi-monthly thereafter.
The Special commission shall be empowered to hold regular public meetings, fact-finding hearings and other public forums as it considers necessary. Members shall not receive compensation for their services.
The commission shall report on its recommendations, including recommendations for legislation, if any, to the senate president, the speaker of the house, and the governor.
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