Columbia was recognized as the Best City for People with Disabilities in Maryland by WalletHub, a personal finance outlet, ranking fourth in the nation. WalletHub compared 182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across three key dimensions: economy, quality of life and health care.

During the past four years, Howard County has provided resources to build Patuxent Commons, a major housing project that is a national model for housing adults with disabilities; opened Laura’s Place, a first-of-its-kind playground that embraces inclusive activities for all; and upgraded its website to include full content accessibility.

To determine the most livable places for people with disabilities, WalletHub compared more than 180 most populated cities across 34 indicators of disability-friendliness. The economy category included factors such as housing affordability and the poverty rate of people with disabilities; the quality-of-life ranking included measurements of wheelchair access for restaurants, stores and trails, as well as number of special education teachers and other factors; and health care rankings included COVID-19 vaccination rates and numbers of occupational therapists.

“In recent years, we have made investments so that residents of all ages and abilities can thrive, such as adding 150 additional special education teachers this year, building accessible housing or implementing programs to ensure that vaccines are available to all,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “It is gratifying to receive national recognition for our work, and we will continue our efforts to make our playgrounds, trails, transportation system and more the best in the country, for all our residents.

Columbia ranked in the top 10 nationally in both the economy and quality of life categories.