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Bill In Colorado Legislature Aims To Help Disabled Modify Homes

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - For Dawn Stevens a handrail is the difference between independence and dependence.

"A handrail would be really, really, really amazing," she said.

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CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Dawn Stevens. (credit: CBS)

Stevens is one of 14,000 Coloradans living with multiple sclerosis - a neurological disease that can affect everything from balance to speech to vision - who could benefit from a bill at the state capitol.

It's aimed at keeping people with disabilities in their own homes.

"She is representative of so many people who are exactly the same way," said Rep. Hugh McKean who, along with Rep. Matt Gray, is sponsoring the bill.

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Representatives Hugh McKean and Matt Gray (credit: CBS)

It would provide up to $5,000 in state income tax credits to help people with disabilities - who meet certain income qualifications - retrofit their homes.

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(credit: CBS)

"Getting in and out of people's houses can be a really tough thing," said McKean, "Then they can't stay there anymore and so now suddenly you're going to have people who end up in assisted living or in nursing homes and exponentially increase in cost."

Stevens bought a ranch-style home because the progression of MS is unpredictable.

"I don't know what I'll be like... if I'll still be able to have the same abilities the next moment, let alone the next day, let alone the next month, let alone the next year."

She already has trouble walking down her front steps and would like to install a railing and ramp, but says it's just not in the budget. Her medications alone cost thousands of dollars a month.

She's hoping lawmakers will come together to help.

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(credit: CBS)

"It really means that maybe I'll still be able to be in my home, the place that you're supposed to feel safe," Stevens said.

The bill caps the total amount of tax credits issued each year to $1 million over the next 10 years. It has bi-partisan sponsors and passed it's first committee.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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