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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.
Before you begin, consider using this Disability Accommodation Cost Guide to get an idea of the cost of common projects like building a ramp, remodeling for a disability, or installing an elevator. You can compare the cost of these projects for your location to average national costs or just get an idea of what the cost will be to help you decide or plan the project.
Independent Living Centers
SDA Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program assists approved lenders in providing low and moderate income households the opportunity to own adequate, modest, decent, safe and sanitary dwellings as their primary residence in eligible rural areas. Eligible applicants may use the loan to provide special design features or permanently installed equipment to accommodate a household member who has a physical disability. Get started by contacting an approved lender or visiting the link above.
Two programs exist for veterans to help purchase or construct an adapted home or modify an existing home to accommodate a disability: Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant. Eligibility for these grants is based upon the permanent and total service-connected disability. Find more information and how to apply by clicking the links, calling the VA at 800.827.1000 or visit the nearest VA regional office.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): deductions are allowed for certain modifications as medical expenses. They include constructing ramps, widening doorways or hallways, installing railings, adding grab bars, smoke detectors and more. This IRS publication 502 identifies specifics, but check with your tax preparer for details as deductions are subject to change.
Federal Medicaid Waiver programs are available and variable on a state or local level. Check locally for possible use of waivers to provide long-term care in a home setting by modifying the house.
Federal Title XXI Social Security funds are available and variable on a state or local level. Contact your local social security office.
The Federal Older Americans Act of 1965 is administered through state Boards on Aging and/or state and local agencies. Check for local listings in government pages of directory or online for local agency. While accessible housing is not listed specifically, there are programs that address transportation, adult day care, nutrition, and caregiver supports.
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, 504 or Guaranteed 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.
National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification: Searchable service directory by state.
Housing Financing Agencies: Searchable directory by state.
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.
Chicago's HomeMod Program provides serives to make living environments accessible for people under the age of 60.
Access Home Modification Program
The Access Home Modification Program, funded through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency 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.
Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas in April)
This is a volunteer project around the country that provides low-income homeowners with critical home repairs, accessibility modifications and energy-efficient upgrades.
Check with your local Habitat for Humanity for special programs (50+ Repair Program) providing grants for aging in place.
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, Area Agency on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, 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.
Mortgage and Home Loan Help Guide for the Disabled: A comprehensive guide to housing and mortgages for people with disabilities.
Mortgage and Refinance Guide for People with Disabilities: Includes a discussion of rights, the home purchasing process, and programs specifically for seniors, veterans and individuals 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, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Easter Seals and United Cerebral Palsy. (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.
Use Your Home to Stay at Home: Reverse Mortgage Consumer Booklet from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Reverse mortgages could be used to make a home accessible. This publication discusses the pros and cons of reverse mortgages.
Council for Disability Rights has funding sources, innovative financing resources, equity financing ideas and sources specific to Cook county in Illinois.
Veteran's Guide to Funding Home Modifications