County Executive Ike Leggett Launches Innovative Design for Life Website

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 County Executive Ike Leggett, joined by Council President Nancy Floreen, unveiled today the Design for Life website called designforlifemc.org developed by the Department of Permitting Services. Designforlifemc.org promotes Montgomery County’s property tax incentives offered to help residents install basic accessibility design features to make their homes welcoming to persons living with a temporary or permanent disability, accommodate friends or relatives who have a mobility limitation, and, ultimately, to help people age in place at home. The website provides an important tool that gives residents and building professionals a single location for information about the property tax incentives and building and design elements of accessible homes. Homeowners, those in the market for a new home and the building industry should visit the new site at Designforlifemc.org. “Barriers to entry and use of homes by persons requiring mobility aids must be overcome,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “Designforlifemc.org is a gateway for residents to easily obtain the property tax credits to help pay to make their homes accessible. This website also provides examples of homes demonstrating features that make homes accessible while highlighting projects and the building community that incorporate DFL features into the homes they design, build or renovate. I want to see Design for Life homes become a county standard and Montgomery County has the program that pays to help make that vision a reality.” DFL promotes building barrier free homes that are accessible and usable by people with various levels of physical mobility. The DFL guidelines incorporate design features such as a no step entrance at any door, wide hallways, safe and accessible bathrooms, and reachable counters and food preparation areas. The goal of the program is to encourage more accessible housing stock with universal design features. The “Design for Life Montgomery” legislation — Bill 5-13 – Property Tax Credits–Accessibility – went into effect July 1, 2014. Several homes have recently been completed, which earned tax credits from the legislation. “When I introduced Bill 5-13 at the urging of the Commission on People with Disabilities, I hoped that it would encourage residents to invest in their homes to make them both livable and visitable,” Councilmember Leventhal said. “This website will go a long way to make that happen.” “I came from living in a multi-level house and struggled with going up and down the stairs and getting around small hallways,” said Kathy Hansen, who lives in a Design for Life home. “My new home, built by Classic Home, was done using Design for Life specifications, which has made access to my home dramatically easier and has improved my mobility and quality of life immensely.” “It’s very exciting to see more Design for Life projects being completed. This website provides better access to the Design for Life Property Tax Credit and encourages DFL design by highlighting those engaged in making homes accessible and livable. We want to promote Design for Life principles and substantially boost the number of DFL projects,” said Diane Schwartz Jones, Director, Department of Permitting Services. “The target audience is all homeowners and buyers, not a specific audience segment or community. Basic accessibility design is for everyone at all ages and stages of life.” said Betsy Tolbert Luecking, Community Outreach Manager, Department of Health and Human Services. Design for Life Tax Credit Program includes: • a property tax credit of up to $2500 for installing accessibility features in an existing residence; • a property tax credit of up to $3000 for making a new or existing, attached or detached, single-family home Visitable (barrier-free entry, interior pathway, visiting space and powder room); • a property tax credit of up to $10,000 for making a new or existing, attached or detached, single-family home Livable (barrier-free entry, interior pathways, living spaces, kitchen, bedroom and bath); and • an impact tax credit against the Development Impact Tax for Public School Improvements for meeting a Level I accessibility standard in single-family attached and detached homes. For more information about the Design for Life Montgomery program, visit designforlifemc.org or call Simin Rasolee in the Department of Permitting Services at 240-777- 6283 or via MD Relay at 711. # # # Release ID: 16-113 Media Contact: Judy Stiles 240-777-6507

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