The unique competition invites designers to celebrate and elevate the aesthetics of accessibility this summer.

CLEVELAND – February 12, 2019 – North Coast Community Homes (NCCH) is thrilled to announce Zero Threshold, a one-of-a-kind international design challenge aimed at creating the most innovative, visually appealing and forward-thinking barrier-free designs for living. Generously funded by the Cleveland Foundation, ZeroThreshold and NCCH strives to change the paradigm in thinking that accessibility is only for the disabled.

“There’s no reason that accessible designs can’t be stunning and suitable for everyone, regardless of ability, age, or disability,” said NCCH’s CEO, Jim Lasher. “We created this competition to elevate the idea of accessibility through intentionally beautiful design, and it’s an important step in changing the conversation about accessibility. And we’re thrilled to have the incredible support of the Cleveland Foundation to help bring this vision to life.”

Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard expressed the organization’s support of the competition. “We see this as an opportunity to begin the journey towards transforming Cleveland into the world’s leading barrier-free city,” said Richard. “It’s extremely important for our residents with disabilities and those aging in place to have access to affordable, beautiful housing. We salute North Coast Community Homes’ leadership in this endeavor.”

The contest invites designers to celebrate the aesthetics of accessibility to create greater barrier-free living throughout our communities. Zero Threshold seeks accessible-housing concepts that emphasize striking, beautiful design in equal weight to functionality. The competition encompasses:

  • New residential construction
  • Accessory dwellings
  • Interior design and retrofits for existing housing
  • Public space and landscape design
  • Holistic urban design strategies aimed at eliminating physical and social barriers in urban neighborhoods

The competition is timely, as cities across the US face a lack of accessible housing for people with disabilities and a growing population of older individuals looking to stay in their communities. This is one reason the competition is grounded in spaces that can be found in the Cleveland neighborhood of Old Brooklyn, which acts as a stand-in for middle neighborhoods across the US.

Zero Threshold was inspired in part by (dis)ABLED Beauty, an exhibition held at the Kent State University Museum in 2016 and 2017. The exhibition presented artfully design prostheses, hearing aids, and mobility devices for people living with disabilities, and aimed to change the negative stigma associated with disability by presenting fashion-forward adaptive devices.

Zero Threshold is open to students and professionals, working individually or in teams. Winning entries will receive monetary awards and be featured in an exhibition and publication. The most compelling and innovative projects will be considered for construction in a future second phase of the competition.

For more information about Zero Threshold, including information about how to register and submit entries, visit

About North Coast Community Homes

North Coast Community Homes (NCCH) provides high quality, community- based homes throughout Northeast Ohio for people with developmental disabilities, severe mental illness, and other disabilities. With the support of many donors, volunteers, and professionals, we have developed and manage more than 220 community-based homes serving more than 1,000 men and women since 1984. In keeping with our mission, homes developed by NCCH are safe, comfortable, and affordable, and are designed to empower persons with disabilities to live fuller, more independent lives. Working with County Boards of Developmental Disabilities and local mental Health agencies, North Coast Community Homes has homes in more than 60 cities across Northeast Ohio.

About the Cleveland Foundation

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.5 billion and 2018 grants of more than $100 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation’s program areas include: arts and culture, economic and workforce development, education, environment, neighborhoods, and youth development and social services. For more information, visit