Editor’s note: A version of this story also appears in the 2017 Wells Fargo Annual Report.
“When I first walked in here, if you want to hear the honest truth, I didn’t believe it.”
That was Walter Moody’s reaction to seeing his new home for the first time. And no wonder — the Memphis, Tennessee, house has come a long way.
As part of a nationwide home renovation competition to use “universal design,” Moody’s home now features design elements that allows adults to stay in their homes throughout the various stages of their lives.
The ranch house, donated by Wells Fargo, was part of a groundbreaking effort by AARP, AARP Foundation, Home Matters, and the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, which hosted the competition called “Home Today, Home Tomorrow.”
“While this is just one home, it provides a model of various universal design elements that, no matter what budget someone has, can be added to help improve their emotional and physical well-being now and into the future – a home forever,” said Dave Brown, CEO of Home Matters. “Because home is a quality-of-life issue.”
The first-place design, by IBI Group – Gruzen Samton, went beyond traditional shelter requirements and addressed the connections between housing and other important social factors, such as community, affordability, accessibility, aesthetics, flexibility, and environment. The renovated home now features universal design elements like stair-free entrances, a barrier-free shower, and cabinets of various heights in the bathrooms and kitchen to accommodate individuals whether they are sitting in a wheelchair or standing.
“Wells Fargo has been a Home Matters supporter since the program’s inception,” said Martin Sundquist, executive director of the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. “From working with them to conceptualize the competition idea, to donating the Memphis home, we believe this is yet another success in our work with nonprofits to create stronger communities, and we are proud to join Home Matters, and others, to team up and help make Mr. Moody’s dream of homeownership a reality. I’m hopeful the Home Matters movement inspires additional efforts to create more affordable and sustainable housing across the country.”
Moody, a 55-year-old U.S. Army veteran, was selected to receive the home not only because of his military service, but also because of his desire to create a safe living space for himself and his extended family – particularly his mother. Her disabilities, coupled with the non-accessible floor plan of Moody’s previous home, made it difficult for her to visit.
“Having my mother to come in like she came today and be able to get around, move around, enjoy happy moments, eat good food, and have family conversations, and for us to all gather up under here together, it’s going to be a blessing,” he said.
Photo Credit: Anne Oberlander