RAMPS – Renovation and Modification Projects

Renovation and modification projectsIn 1991, the RAMPS (Renovation and Modification Projects) program at the Southwest Center for Independent Living (SCIL) started with the objective to improve accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities in their homes. RAMPS provides home modifications at no charge for low income seniors and people with disabilities that qualify in the eight southwest Missouri counties SCIL serves: Christian, Dallas, Greene, Lawrence, Polk, Stone, Taney and Webster.

For a senior or person with a disability, renovations for accessibility can create more self-sufficiency, independence and often helps them avoid moving into a nursing home or other institutional facility. More than twenty years later, we continue to make modifications throughout the community as well as focus on promoting universal design concepts with builders and government agencies to decrease the need for renovations in the future. Many homes have not been built with aging in place in mind. For more information please see the Universal Design brochure.

Ramps - Fort group 10The Southwest Center for Independent Living (SCIL) Access Department manages the RAMPS (Renovation and Modification Projects) program with two staff who field information and referral inquiries for home modifications. Access staff talks with each person requesting a modification and completes an assessment interview to compile information on the person’s disability, income and whether they own or rent their home. Based on the phone conversation, if a person qualifies they are added to a waiting list and staff then schedules and conducts on-site surveys to inspect each property to determine the confirmed modifications needed, cost feasibility, if the project is structurally possible and whatever any alternatives are an option. All of these tasks can take several weeks to complete

Ramps - recipient James Glenn 003The types of modifications that RAMPS provides include accessibility outside and inside a person’s home, but must demonstrate the following need for each project:

• Wheelchair Ramp or Wedge Ramp: Inability to use a single point of entry / exit to the home independently

• Handrails: Inability to access stairs without a handrail

• Widening of Doorways: Inability to access bathroom or other rooms in the home due to narrow width of doorway

• Grab Bars: Inability to safely enter / exit bathtub, or use toilet

All RAMPS projects incorporate the standards put in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, when wheelchair ramps are built, for every inch of rise we build a foot of ramp length to ensure the grade isn’t too steep. We also use new materials, treated lumber and treated screws for wheelchair ramps so that they can last as long as possible. Doorways typically need to be at least 36 inches wide for a wheelchair to easily pass through and roll-in showers provide a person a way to bathe safely rather than climbing in and out of a tub.

To qualify for the RAMPS program, the consumer’s household income must fall within the low income HUD guidelines by county resident. Free services we offer for those who do not qualify due to income are a sketch for a wheelchair ramp and additional information and referral to resources that might help them outside of our organization.

RAMPS typically limits the amount spent per household up to $1,000 per person every five years in order to spread our limited funding as far as possible, and collaborates with other organizations to fill the gap for any additional funding above that amount.

RAMPS does provide modifications for both home owners and renters. All rental landlords are required to approve and sign off on the modifications. Often this creates a lasting relationship with SCIL because these modified rental units become first choice for other consumers with disabilities to rent in the future.

Alternative modifications or the use of assistive technology can reduce the cost associated with many projects. Our goal is to assist people with disabilities in living in the least restrictive environment and with limited funding; we try to find creative ways to help them. For example, instead of bathroom remodels to older homes, often the Access staff suggests the use of a bath bench, transfer bench, toilet seat risers and/or grab bars because of the space available. Sometimes these alternative options mean a difference of several thousand compared to a few hundred dollars. When Assistive Technology is recommended, Access staff will refer consumers to SCIL’s Assisting Consumers Through Technology (ACTT) department and most pieces will be donated directly to the consumer without cost to them.

Disabilities that are temporary or do not limit the person’s mobility do not receive modifications from our program. Another example of a project that RAMPS would not fund is a person who recently broke their leg that is expected to heal. Their injury is considered temporary and although they may request a ramp their need isn’t permanent. In order to utilize limited funds in the most sensible ways, SCIL is forced to limit projects to the most feasible ones only.

Volunteers are utilized as much as possible to complete RAMPS projects. Volunteers can work individually, with groups, churches or friends or attend ramp camp for training. Professional contractors can be hired for complicated jobs. SCIL works with many vendors to ensure with have the highest quality and best priced materials.

To fund the RAMPS program, SCIL utilizes fee-for-service funds, a Center for Independent Living grant and other grants from organizations such as the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging, Bentley Trust and Home Depot, and donations from individuals and businesses.

Your support is needed and if you would like to support RAMPS vision in assisting people with disabilities to live independently in the community, please visit the Support SCIL page, Email Us or call 417.886.1188.