"I t's like a dream come true for handicapped persons," says Jewell Phillips of her Bethesda apartment. Phillips and her two children moved to the federally funded apartment two years ago, shortly after multiple sclerosis restricted her to a wheel chair.

Before moving to the barrier-free apartment, the 31-year-old Phillips lived with her mother in a Northeast Washington apartment. She could only enter and leave with the help of someone strong enough to lift her wheelchair up the two steps of the entryway.

Her new home, in a rent-subsidized project called McGruder's Discovery, is a different world. "I couldn't believe it at first because everything was so tailor-made," Phillips says. Here, the bathroom doors are wide, she has a wheel-in shower, and nearly everything is lower--the kitchen stove, the cabinets and the closet hangers.

Jewell Phillips realizes she is one of a fortunate number of disabled persons living in federally funded accessible housing. However, disabled home-seekers may see big changes in the federal government's approach to barrier-free housing in the next few years, officials of the Department of Housing and Urban Development say.

Although HUD planners have proposed a 22 percent increase in funds for the Section 202 program--the major source for funding--other HUD programs that provide barrier-free housing are facing drastic cuts. Reagan administration officials also are saying the private sector must assume more responsiblity for providing housing for some of the 35 million Americans who have disabilites.

HUD proposes spending $850 million in fiscal 1982 for Section 202 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a program covering the elderly and handicapped that has funded roughly 12,500 units for disabled residents since it began in 1976. In the unlikely event that the funding proposal escapes the Reagan administration's budget cuts unscathed, about 2,000 of the 17,000 housing units it would fund would be accessible by the disabled.

HUD Section 8 and public housing projects, which from 1977 to 1979 provided about 13,000 rent-subsidized units for the disabled, are facing deep HUD cuts.

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, which enforces the requirement that all federally funded buildings be made accessible, may become a vicim of Reagan's budget cuts. In addition to existing federal regulations, many states and localities have set up stiff accessibility building codes. Both the District and Prince George's County require, with some exceptions, that all new construction or substantial renovation be made barrier-free.

Advocates for the disabled say the critical needs now are for further development of accessible housing, for listings of available barrier-free housing units and for health and support services for the more severely disabled who could live independently with minimal aid.

A 1980 study of 87 Arlington County apartment complexes found that only one of the buildings met all six of the county-established accessibility criteria, Arlington County officials said. The least accessible complexes were the lower-priced ones, the researchers said.

The Reagan administration clearly expects the private sector to provide more initiatives for housing accessibility.

"It's not a matter of the federal government pulling out of barrier-free housing endeavors . It's a matter of the federal government encouraging private enterprise to come in and take a new role . . . and to encourage a volunteer corps," said John Putman, special adviser to the deputy undersecretary in HUD's Office of Intergovernmental Relations. Putman said he is developing proposals that would stimulate volunteers, foundations and private enterprise to develop accessible housing.

Washington-area disabled-rights activist John Collins agrees with Putman that private concerns must build on Limited Access ---HUD Cuts Pose Barriers for Handicapped By Tim Miller Special to The Washington Post "I"I t's like a dream come true for handicapped "I persons," says Jewell Phillips of her Bethesda apartment. Phillips and her two children moved to the federally funded apartment two years ago, shortly after multiple sclerosis restricted her to a wheel chair.

Before moving to the barrier-free apartment, the 31-year-old Phillips lived with her mother in a Northeast Washington apartment. She could only enter and leave with the help of someone strong enough to lift her wheelchair up the two steps of the entryway.

Her new home, in a rent-subsidized project called McGruder's Discovery, is a different world. "I couldn't believe it at first because everything was so tailor-made," Phillips says. Here, the bathroom doors are wide, she has a wheel-in shower, and nearly everything is lower--the kitchen stove, the cabinets and the closet hangers.

Jewell Phillips realizes she is one of a fortunate number of disabled persons living in federally funded accessible housing. However, disabled home-seekers may see big changes in the federal government's approach to barrier-free housing in the next few years, officials of the Department of Housing and Urban Development say.

Although HUD planners have proposed a 22 percent increase in funds for the Section 202 program--the major source for funding--other HUD programs that provide barrier-free housing are facing drastic cuts. Reagan administration officials also are saying the private sector must assume more responsiblity for providing housing for some of the 35 million Americans who have disabilites.

HUD proposes spending $850 million in fiscal 1982 for Section 202 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a program covering the elderly and handicapped that has funded roughly 12,500 units for disabled residents since it began in 1976. In the unlikely event that the funding proposal escapes the Reagan administration's budget cuts unscathed, about 2,000 of the 17,000 housing units it would fund would be accessible by the disabled.

HUD Section 8 and public housing projects, which from 1977 to 1979 provided about 13,000 rent-subsidized units for the disabled, are facing deep HUD cuts.

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, which enforces the requirement that all federally funded buildings be made accessible, may become a vicim of Reagan's budget cuts. In addition to existing federal regulations, many states and localities have set up stiff accessibility building codes. Both the District and Prince George's County require, with some exceptions, that all new construction or substantial renovation be made barrier-free.

Advocates for the disabled say the critical needs now are for further development of accessible housing, for listings of available barrier-free housing units and for health and support services for the more severely disabled who could live independently with minimal aid.

A 1980 study of 87 Arlington County apartment complexes found that only one of the buildings met all six of the county-established accessibility criteria, Arlington County officials said. The least accessible complexes were the lower-priced ones, the researchers said.

The Reagan administration clearly expects the private sector to provide more initiatives for housing accessibility.

"It's not a matter of the federal government pulling out of barrier-free housing endeavors . It's a matter of the federal government encouraging private enterprise to come in and take a new role . . . and to encourage a volunteer corps," said John Putman, special adviser to the deputy undersecretary in HUD's Office of Intergovernmental Relations. Putman said he is developing proposals that would stimulate volunteers, foundations and private enterprise to develop accessible housing.

Washington-area disabled-rights activist John Collins agrees with Putman that private concerns must build on the foundation laid by the government. "I think regulations and strong clear standards are important to get people to toe the line," he said. "But I think the real work is going to be done in the private sector."

Disabled persons say a critical lack of communication with the housing industry prohibits them from hearing about accessible housing even when it is available. Also, they say, a lack of transportation and support services makes it impossible for the more seriously disabled persons to begin living independently.

An accessible house or apartment usually has an entrance ramp, larger entrance and interior doorways, a larger bathroom with special toilet, shower and sink fixtures and often has lowered kitchen cabinets and handier closets. A current plethora of accessibility codes scares off some builders, officials say.

"There's already a 'glimmer of a trend' " for private involvement in accessibility efforts, says the executive vice president of a private disabled-housing organization in Washington.

"The private housing industry is now starting to include more adaptable or accessible units in new buildings," said Tom Fisher, executive vice-president of the Housing Institute, a new nonprofit group seeking $900,000 to acquire 10 housing units and form a low-yield housing cooperative for disabled persons.

The owners association for the scattered-site co-op would contract for medical and support services for its members in the same manner that co-ops presently contract for maintenance services, Fisher explained. He said he's hoping to line up a subsidy with which he could buy down the interest rate for the cooperative's start-up loan.

Fisher also hopes to promote private investment in accessible housing by stressing government economic incentives. "Depending on the investor's income bracket and liquidity, you can combine subsidies and tax incentives and come up with some very nice rehabilitation or construction," he said.

Most advocates of accessible housing, however, prefer to see barrier-free efforts spring from a market demand, rather than at the goading of regulations or subsidies. They say simply finding out about what's on the market is a major problem.

"I had a hell of a time finding a house where the conversion would be at a reasonable price," said Don Sherman, 32, who moved to suburban Maryland a year ago to take a position at the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Sherman, who was paralyzed during the Vietnam War, finally bought a rambler in Gaithersburg that he converted for about $2,000.

Other disabled persons tell similar accounts of having to drive around and personally inspect each house they were interested in.

To deal with this problem, the Montogmery County Board of Realtors and the Washington Board of Realtors next month will begin including a detailed listing of accessibility features in their computerized multiple-listing services.

Collins has found condominium promoters to be amenable to accessibility conversions. He said developers of the Park Fairfax Condominium in Alexandria petitioned the city to put in wheelchair ramps, made the parking garage, swimming pool and tennis courts barrier free and allowed him to make extensive conversions of his unit. Other apartments, he said, offer 10 percent discounts to the elderly and the disabled.

Researchers estimate the cost of adding accessibility features to new houses ranges from around one percent to 3 percent of the building's cost.

A test project by HUD and the National Association of Home Builders Research Foundation last year found that building a home to the most recent American National Standands Institute specifications added about $1,500 to a $59,000 house in Las Vegas. In a similar test at McGruder's Discovery, where Jewell Phillips now lives, the researchers found that compliance with ANSI standards added between $1,200 and $1,800 per unit.

The question most relevant to developers, however, is the one most difficult to answer: How many disabled persons are looking for housing?

One HUD researcher said that question "is the bane of our existence," blaming the dearth of information on the lack of willingness and desire for statisticians to survey the disabled population.

Some think the problem is overstated. "There's not as big a demand for handicapped housing as the government thinks," said Jack Dempsey, maintenance supervisor for the HUD-funded St. Charles Community in Waldorf, Md., where five of the community's 50 accessible units are inhabited by those in wheelchairs.

Advocates of disabled housing blame the disabled's under-occupancy of St. Charles and some other HUD projects on unattractive location and the lack of support services and transportation.

Collins agrees there is not a large "ready market" of disabled persons, but predicts it will grow rapidly as support services become available, as extended-care facilites place their residents in communities and as more disabled persons become employed. He also predicted that the demand for barrier-free housing will grow as the percentage of older persons in the U.S. population continues to increase.

According to Collins, nearly every citizen will at some point benefit from the development of accessible housing.

"There are two kinds of people, the disabled and the temporarily able-bodied," he said.