Stephen P. Hansler has served as the Executive Director or President of Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio (MAHO) since its inception. Under his leadership, we have provided fully accessible housing to hundreds of people with mobility disabilities. We have also taught the necessity for and principles of accessible housing to government officials, housing professionals, consumers, and case workers. This award honors Steve’s commitment to attaining independent living through accessible housing.
The 2018 Hansler Award awarded to Fred Cortright
At MAHO’s annual meeting on December 5, 2018, Steve Hansler presented the 2018 Hansler Award posthumously to Fred Cortright. His wife, Beth Armstrong, accepted the award.
Fred was a lifelong advocate for sustainability, accessible housing, and social justice in many forms; in addition to serving on the MAHO Board, he volunteered with Lakewood Alive, Home Repair Resource Center, and Lutheran Metro Ministry. Fred passed away in March of 2018.
Thomas Meyer, an Anderson Center committee member and longtime friend of Fred, spoke about Fred’s passion for accessibility: Accessible design, and sustainable, efficient design too, are not yet the rule. They are not necessarily sexy. They are a matter of social justice, however, and that was what made Fred such a forceful advocate for better design, especially for lower income residents. For him it was not just a good idea, but an imperative. He studied the history of housing, looking for ways to steer it in the right direction as he saw it. He went out into the community, engaging and teaching people about simple ways to improve how their homes functioned. He embraced and embodied the concepts of healthy, efficient and accessible homes, and was adamant that anything less was not only poor, but unjust design.
Fred worked toward a mainstream approach in a realm that was continually relegated to the margins, and for people who are routinely relegated to the margins as well. The irony that this marginalized population is huge and growing steadily was not lost on Fred. The irony that simple and easy to achieve design choices could truly impact the world we live in if replicated on a mass scale, yet are considered fringe concepts even in this day and age, was not lost on Fred. Perhaps the most significant bond we shared was an underlying anger at the injustice of our society and culture. He chose to deal with that via sardonic humor and a refusal to accommodate injustice; to accept the status quo. He understood that change happens one person, one changed mind, one well-built structure at a time. He believed that smart ideas and good design could one day become the mainstream, and I have no doubt he is correct about that. How long that will take is anyone’s guess, but this is what makes the mission here at MAHO so important to continuously, relentlessly promote. Do that in Fred’s honor.
In his presentation, Steve noted that the Hansler Award recognizes those who not only support the mission, vision and values of MAHO, but have also made an outstanding contribution to furthering them. Fred not only contributed to furthering MAHO’s mission, he actually helped write our current mission, vision, and values in 2017. This was very typical of Fred’s involvement with MAHO: in his four years on the Board, he served on every ad hoc committee, attended resource fairs, gave presentations, and helped develop our Anderson Center program. In his closing, Steve shared this anecdote about Fred:
On his prospective Board member questionnaire for MAHO, Fred wrote, “I am told that this is a Board that “does things,” which I find attractive in that I try to live so as to be of use.” There is no doubt that Fred was of use to MAHO and many others. He is missed greatly.