Fairfax Building For All Committee

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The large population of baby boomers begins to turn 65 by year 2011, and it is projected that by 2030 there will be about 1.3 million more older Virginians than in 2000 – a 120% increase.

The expected rate of growth in Fairfax County between 2005 and 2020:

  • Age 0-19:     11% Increase

  • Age 20-49:     7% Increase

  • Age 50-69:    25% Increase

  • Age 70+:       58% Increase

Thousands of wounded veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with newly acquired disabilities are in need of existing barrier free and integrated housing.

People with disabilities make up about 11% of the population of Fairfax County. Universal or visitable design doesn’t just increase the options available for people with disabilities seeking integrated and accessible housing, but it also allows them to be more involved in the community by visiting their friends, family members and neighbors in their homes just like their peers without disabilities

Universal Design is a set of principles to provide for housing that is comfortable, safe, and convenient, and to enhance the independence of residents of all ages, sizes, and abilities.

Universal design concepts will ensure that our housing meets the needs of every age and can easily be adapted. 

Much of the housing in our community is Peter Pan housing – built as though we’ll never grow old. New design concepts address the reality that housing must be accessible to both visitors and occupants. Visitability design enables all people to enter a home and access the first floor gathering places and bathroom without barriers such as steps and narrow doorways.

Universal design takes accessibility further, with designs that adapt to the changing needs of current and future occupants. Visitability and universal design benefit families of all ages including older adults adjusting to mobility limitations and boomers wanting to bring aging parents to live with them. Using universal and visitability design is usually less expensive and less disruptive than retrofitting later.

The Department of Housing and Community Development has adopted universal design for future buildings.


  • Promote universal design through county sponsored community educational opportunities, events, and online resources, available in English and other languages for residents, architects and builders.
  • Review housing construction requirements to identify and rectify barriers to universal design.  
  • Provide educational tool kits for building permit applicants and designate a county universal design information specialist to assist residents. 
  • Include in the Board of Supervisors’ legislative agenda, a proposal to amend the Livable Homes Tax Credit to increase the per capita dollar amount for making homes more accessible.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has stated a commitment to promote housing that will benefit all citizens for years to come.

Therefore, the Fairfax County Coalition on Housing and Universal Design formed as a Public/Private Partnership with representation that will tap the talents of Contractors, Remodelers, Interior Designers, Occupational and Physical Therapists and other Health Care Professionals, Architects, Area Agency on Aging and other Advocates for Older Adults, Persons with Disabilities, Real Estate Professionals, Interested Consumers, and Representatives from Fairfax County Government Agencies.

Land Development Services in the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is the lead agency in response to a Board Matter requesting a review and the formation of a study group to consider what changes might be needed to County policies and/or regulations to advance construction of more Universal Design housing.  Staff from Land Development Services, Planning and Zoning, Housing and Community Development and the Planning Commission will be participating in the study group along with representatives from the building industry.  The Fairfax County Coalition on Housing and Universal Design will participate in cross-over meetings and activities with the DPWES UD Study Group and plans to initiate efforts for community education and coalition building.


The mission of the coalition is to advocate for all homes in the county (renovations as well as new construction,)  to be comfortable, safe, and convenient; and that they enhance the independence of residents of all ages, sizes and abilities. 

We will accomplish this by:

  • Promoting the merits of universal design features in housing
  • Educating consumers about the benefits of universal design
  • Leading advocacy efforts to affect public policy in support of universal design
  • Increasing the building industry's knowledge of universal design,
  • Advocating for and promote the building of universal design demonstration houses, apartments, and other business and related structures as resource to assist us in accomplishing our goal of community education.


Initial Coalition includes Fairfax County employees designated by an asterisk (*)

  • Matt Barkley, Fairfax Disabiilty Services Planning & Development, DFS*
  • Ruth Benker, Fairfax County Citizen
  • Audrey Clark, Fairfax County Building Plan Review, DPWES*
  • Jeannie Cummins, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board
  • Toni Clemons-Porter, Senior Housing, HCD*
  • Brent DeRobertis, Senior Abode
  • Bob Eiffert, Long Term Care Coordinating Council*
  • Leon Harper, Universal Design Consultant
  • Desiree Hirsch, Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), Long & Foster
  • Liz Jan, Om Casa Vaastu Architecture, CAPS 
  • Shetal Kapoor, Customer Service Ombudsman
  • Jeffrey Levine, Levine Design Studio
  • James Mueller, Fairfax County Citizen
  • Amber Nightingale, AARP Virginia
  • Eva Papaefthimiou, Property Management, HCD*
  • Margot Squires, Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs
  • Leslie Wiechmann-Roddy, Fairfax Area Agency on Aging, DFS 



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