When Jim moved into his new home six years ago, he had great plans. He wanted to turn the basement into a den where he could shoot pool, display his sports trophies and escape his disability, at least for a while. The Army veteran had developed multiple sclerosis at 21. By his 40s, the disease had left him unable to negotiate the basement stairs. All the solutions he imagined proved too costly. That disappointment nearly turned deadly during tornado season. Jim couldn’t take shelter in the basement, and his wife, Sandy, refused to leave him upstairs alone. Determined to keep his loved ones safe, Jim reached out to Ramp Up. Soon he had gained access to his basement — and so much more.

A few years ago, Ophelia, a longtime Chicago resident, suffered a stroke. She got a power scooter, but that didn’t solve the problem of the stairs. Suddenly, her life narrowed to the second floor of her home — the only place she could reach a bathroom. When she needed to see a doctor, she resorted to calling an ambulance to pick her up. Ramp Up helped her get Illinois Housing Development Authority funds for a chair lift and City of Chicago support for a ramp. Now she’s on the move again and excited to be back at church on Sundays. A chair lift and a ramp sound simple — and they are — but to her, they mean the world.


Francisco, his sister and brother have been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. This progressive condition makes it impossible for them to walk. If their parents had not been able to make their house accessible, they might have lost their children to an institution. But with home modifications from UCP’s Ramp Up program, they have kept their loving family together.