1.3. Home Funding
How to Pay for It ?
The two largest barriers to assistive technology and related goods and services are lack of information and funding. Hopefully, we've provided you with all the information and resources you'll need to get started on modifying your home to make it more livable. Now the only thing standing in your way is money. Below is a long list of possible avenues of financial assistance to pursue. They were collected from many sources, such as the Illinois Tech Act Project, the Center for Accessible Housing, Administration on Aging, and the AARP, to name a few. These are also organizations that will assist you in your efforts. We hope you'll see something you hadn't thought of before.
Independent Living Centers
These centers provide information and referrals on how to get funding in your area. There are approximately 400 independent living centers around the country. For the name of the one nearest you, contact the National Council on Independent Living Centers at (703) 525-3406 (V); (703) 524-3407 (TDD). Most states have a state independent living council (SILC) that can give you a referral. See the Directory of Centers for Independent Living, http://www.virtualcil.net/cils (Click on your state for the CILs nearest you.)
- Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) allows recipients of this program to set aside income toward an approved plan for achieving self-support without jeopardizing benefits. This plan will cover modifications to a home through an SSI savings plan. Call (800) 772-1213 for information.
- USDA Rural Development, Section 502
The Direct Rural Housing Loan Program, Section 502, provides assistance to very low, and low income owner-occupied households. The Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program provides assistance to households with moderate incomes to buy, build, improve, repair or rehabilitate rural homes. Call (202) 720-4323 for information.
- Veterans with disabilities may contact their service officer to determine how much modification the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) will pay. Also ask about the Veteran's Administration Home Adaptation Grant Program. For literature and details on programs, contact the Paralyzed Veterans of America: (202) 872-1300 (V), (202) 872-1300, ext 622 (TTY), (202) 785-4452 (FAX).
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD Homes) has various programs for low income families and persons with disabilities. Check government pages in your directory for contact information.
- The Accessible Customized Environments Program (ACE) locates, purchases, rehabilitates or modifies homes that have been pre-sold to qualified families with a member who has a physical disability. Contact ACE at Extended Home Services: (847) 215-9490.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS): deductions are allowed for certain modifications such as installation of ramps, widening doorways, modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment, moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures, fire alarms, and smoke detectors. Accessibility features are considered medical expenses. Check with your local office or tax attorney for details.
- Federal Medicaid Waiver programs are available and variable on a state or local level.
- Federal Title XXI Social Security funds are available and variable on a state or local level.
- The Federal Older Americans Act is administered through state Boards on Aging and/or state and local agencies. Check for local listings in government pages of directory.
- Check with your State for special, low interest loans and grants.
- Your State's Vocational Rehabilitation program may pay for such things as ramps if the ramp allows a person to get to his or her job.
- The Rural Developments office provides 502 or 504 loans in rural areas. Low income homeowners over 62 also qualify for grants under 504 to build and repair their homes. Contact your local SDA/Rural Developments county office.
- Check for State sales tax exemptions and deductions; State and local property tax credits or abatements.
Inquire of your city, town, or county for special housing programs. Try your alderman or local congressman's office for information on housing repair programs. Programs are granted to low income families and may include kitchen or bathroom modification or ramp installation.
Access Home Modification Program
The Access Home Modification Program provides mortgage loans (up to $10,000) to assist persons with disabilities or who have a family member(s) living in the household with disabilities who are purchasing homes and need to make accessibility modifications. This program provides a deferred payment loan, with no interest or fees, and no repayment until the house is sold, transferred, or the first mortgage is paid off or refinanced. www.phfa.org/programs/singlefamily/ahm.htm
Center for Accessible Housing (CAH)
CAH publishes fact sheets, such as Financing Home Accessibility Modifications, Home Financing for Older People, Benefits of Accessory Unit Housing for Elderly Persons with Disabilities, The Housemate Agreement, and technical packages for using grab bars, universal design, etc. Contact: Center for Accessible Housing at North Carolina State University, (919) 515-3082.
Christmas in April
This is a volunteer project around the country that takes place on the first Saturday in April. Volunteers organize painting parties or make repairs to low income, elderly, and disabled homeowners. Contact Christmas in April USA (try the Internet) for group near you or start your own.
Many organizations organize repair projects for elderly persons or persons with disabilities. Organizations may include your neighborhood association or community groups, churches, synagogues, Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, Little Brothers of the Poor, Jaycees, Agency on Aging, senior centers, building trade unions, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, Kiwanis Clubs, sororities, fraternities, high school volunteerism, YMCA, Knights of Columbus, Rotary Clubs, Lion's Clubs, B'nai B'rith, Masons, or 4H Clubs. Inquire about interest in a community project or see if you can propose one.
Foundations and Donor's Forums
Foundations are nonprofit organizations that support charitable activities to serve the common good. Individuals, families or corporations create them with endowments (donated money). The make grants with the income they earn from investing the endowments and are exempt from federal income tax. Ask the librarian of the main library (not a branch) to show you where to find lists of private foundations.
The Fair Housing Act of 1988 Section 6(a) makes it illegal for landlords to refuse to let tenants make reasonable modifications as to a house or apartment if the tenant is willing to pay for the changes. The tenant must also restore the apartment or house when they leave, if the landlord wants it restored. Often times the added accessibility features makes the unit marketable to more populations and a landlord may be willing to split the costs. New construction of dwellings of four or more units must include wheelchair accessibility through entry ways and bathrooms, reinforced walls for grab bars in the bathroom, and accessible electrical outlets and thermostats.
Private Mortgage and Home Loans
- Low interest Home Equity loans or lines of credit are available from most banks for amounts up to 80 per cent of the equity a person owns in their home.
- Any accessibility features, such as a ramp or lift should be added to the price of a home when applying for a mortgage.
- Federal Home Bank/Affordable Housing Programs are connected with the savings and loan industry. Check with a larger bank or savings and loan institution.
- Disability Mortgages Loans
A comprehensive guide to housing and mortgages for people with disabilities.
Certain private organizations will be able to assist with part of the money, so pursuing several sources may cover the bulk of your expenses, usually available for those who meet an organization's particular need-based criteria.
Write a proposal letter describing the type of modifications you need, why you need them, and the costs involved. (Obtain three bids for services in advance so you'll know how much you need.) Possible sources: The American Cancer Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the National United Cerebral Palsy Association. (Local branch offices will not have the resources the national offices do.)
Worker's Compensation and Private Insurance
- Home modification can be included as part of a Workers Compensation claim and rehabilitation program.
- Private insurance can include home modification as part of a rehabilitation program. Certain modifications, such as purification systems or air conditioners may be covered as a medical necessity, if prescribed by a doctor. Make sure to get a letter from your doctor describing your injury and what is needed. (Expect an automatic denial, and then keep appealing before being accepted. Remember to provide the specific information requested by your insurance company, such as obtaining several price quotes for an item.