Several federal laws give people with disabilities the right to modify their homes, but often unless the housing is subsidized with federal funds tenants must assume the cost of these modifications. Read this article to learn more about what resources are available and other opportunities to help finance any needed modifications.
What are Acess Loans? Access Loans are for any product, device, or building modification designed to assist someone with a disability.
The Handi-Ramp Foundation provides funding solutions for your specific project by raising monies on our foundation site and acting as a "holder" until the required funds are raised. Once your goal is met, the foundation will use the collected funds toward the acquisition of a ramp, lift or other accessible products needed by that individual. No money will be distributed. HandiRamp will acquire or provide the product (ramp, lift or other accessibility product) and installation at a discounted price once the funds are collected.
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.)
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
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
HomeFreeHome is a group of volunteer architects who design barrier-free home renovations that allow people to live with greater safety, dignity and freedom. We connect people living with disabilities to local volunteer architects to create designs for small scale construction projects such as: ramps, accessible bathrooms and kitchens.
HomeFreeHome is an all-volunteer organization
This national nonprofit free of charge rehabilitates homes for low-income homeowners, particularly the elderly and those with disabilities.
Starting in 2006 on Long Island, New York, HomeFreeHome is expanding to other states. Architects have already volunteered in many states including; Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida and are ready to start work.
Home Free Home is an all volunteer organization that relies on local volunteer architects and university students. We are currently in the process of reaching out to volunteers across the country to grant resources to families in need.
To date we are fortunate to have volunteers working and or ready to carry out projects in the many states- see our membership map.
Interested in Ordering an Accessible Home Design Book? This book's ten chapters each address accessibility in specific building components. Subject matter includes entering your home; residential elevators and lifts, kitchen design, bath and toilet room plans, plumbing fixtures, grab bars, doors, windows and outdoor rooms and garden paths.
Rosemarie Rossetti, PhD is building a national model universal design home in Columbus, Ohio called the Universal Design Living Laboratory.
As I speak around the country about universal design housing, members of my audience composed of interior designers, architects, builders and consumers ask many questions. It has occurred to me over the past several years that there are many misconceptions about universal design. Let me share a few of the top myths and explain reality from my perspective.
Myth: A home using universal design looks ugly, institutional and stereotypes the home so people know it was designed for a person with a disability.
Reality: Professionally designed homes with universal design features and products enhance the beauty of a home while making it functional for people with disabilities, as well as convenient for people without disabilities. Universal design is for everyone, not just people with disabilities. There are many beautiful noninstitutional looking universal design products, such as grab bars, in the marketplace. Much of a home's beauty comes from the finishes of the plumbing fixtures, appliances, hardware, cabinets, countertops, wall treatment, and flooring. Universal design products are available in these beautiful finishes.
Myth: Universal design costs more due to the building design and products with universal design features, such as windows, appliances and plumbing fixtures.
Reality: My experience building my own home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory (www.udll. com), national demonstration home in Columbus, Ohio, has shown that there are many choices when it comes to selecting products for the home. Those with universal design features are not more expensive as a general rule. In fact by adding design features and products that support universal design, the home will have more value to the occupants because it will be more usable for a lifetime.
Myth: Universal design takes more square footage.
Reality: Space planning is critical in home design especially when the homeowner uses a wheelchair. As a person who uses a wheelchair, I am very cognizant of where extra space is needed and how to be conservative with space planning when creating a floor plan. By creating an open plan with fewer hallways, square footage can be conserved. By putting adequate space in the kitchen and bathrooms, there will be a lot more accessibility, comfort, and convenience. A universal design home need not have additional square footage, but rather have adequate room for a person to navigate the home from a wheelchair.
Myth: The resale value of the home will be less due to limiting the number of buyers who would be interested in these universal design features.
Reality: Universal design is for people of all ages and abilities. As the US population gets older, especially the baby boomers, they will be remaining in their homes longer. Many are opting to renovate their homes, and others are choosing additions to help them to age in place. Some are purchasing new homes of a smaller size than their last home. They are looking for all the features and comforts to be able to maintain their independence and stay in their homes for the rest of their lifetimes. Universal design features provide for safety and add value to a home.
Myth: The Americans with Disabilities Act has so many regulations that are very complicated to follow when designing homes with universal design features.
Reality: The ADA does not apply to single family housing unless federal funding was utilized. Private homeowners do not have ADA laws to follow.
Myth: The builder and their subcontractors are used to doing it their way and will not follow my design properly to include universal design features. It's too hard to change their building process.
Reality: Builders are becoming certified through the National Association of Home Builders in the Certified Aging in Place Specialist program and are learning how to utilize universal design principles. Builders are insisting that their subcontractors read the plans and follow the procedures for building new homes. As products are ordered by the builder, the universal design features are already a part of the design. As builders construct more homes with universal design features, universal design will become the new standard in the building industry.
Myth: A home containing universal design features will be harder to pass a building code inspection.
Reality: By the very nature and definition of universal design, there are no practices that go against federal and state building codes. There are also provisions for local variances should a question arise in the plan review stage.
Myth: Universal design homes have ramps at the front door causing the home to be labeled as a home for a person with a disability.
Reality: In order to create a no step entrance, there are some instances where a ramp at the front door is the only solution. However, by modifying the grade around the home, there are many properties that can be designed with a no step entrance. If ramping is needed elsewhere, such as in the garage, side door, or rear door, the ramp is not visible from the street.
Myth: Universal design is restricted to building a ranch style home.
Reality: First floor living is the goal for universal design, however, multilevel homes can also be constructed with provisions for access to the upper and lower floors by way of elevators, platform lifts and stair lifts.
Myth: Only a small number of people with disabilities and the elderly will benefit from universal design.
Reality: Universal design is human-centered design. The inclusive design of spaces and products will benefit people of all ages, with or without physical or mental limitations. No one can predict when a short term or long term disability will be a part of our lives. It is far better to plan for homes to accommodate us as we age rather than to be forced out of our homes when circumstances change.
Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. is building a national model universal design home in metropolitan Columbus, Ohio. To learn more about the Universal Design Living Laboratory go to: www.UDLL.com
Contact Rosemarie with your ideas for future articles, questions, and accessible home problems she can solve at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 1995 Design Linc has provided on-line resources and information specifically geared toward people with disabilities and special design needs, as well as those involved in their care. Check out thier design tips!
Interested in planning and construction guidance for modifying existing homes including Home Entry, Interior Access, Bathrooms and Kitchens? This guidebook also provides information about how to include a range of accessibility features into new homes.
New Remodel...New Independence , an article in the Northwest Regional SCI System SCI Update , Spring 2012, V. 21: No. 2
Larry Mohrman, a C5, SCI incomplete shares his story of finding a house to remodel as well as his many before and after pictures, once the work was completed. He worked with a contractor who had done previous ADA compliant work. His contractor said, "My goal was to make it accessible, convenient, safe and fully useable—on a budget!"
Interested in rebuilding your kitchen? Learn about accessible kitchen layouts, contractors and more!
Learn numerous ways to modify your bathroom.
Wyng-T products for space saving bath remodeling, a NSCIA Business Member
Learn more about Grab Bars.
Read about how to build a wheelchair ramp
How to Build Wheelchair Ramps for Homes is a manual of design and construction for modular wheelchair ramps. This manual includes information about modular ramps and long-tread low-riser steps to improve safe home accessibility.
Read about the different types of Wheelchair Lifts including advantages and disadvantages.
The Home Access Program is an initiative started by Handi-Ramp, a company that has been manufacturing handicap accessible ramps since 1958. Helping individuals and families find realtors who can assist in the search for a handicap accessible home or consultants who can modify a current home is the premise of the program. By compiling a searchable database of realtors and consultants across the country who are willing and able to aid in this search, the Home Access Program along with Handi-Ramp, have provided a one-stop shop for all your accessibility needs. Handi-Ramp also provides ADA experts free of charge who can assist in making a home accessible.
Housing Modification Resources:
A story from New Mobility magazine (August, 1997) that presents the changes that the Group, Concrete Changes, organized by Eleanor Smith has made in Atlanta to make new homes "visitable". Minor construction changes can make a home have "visitability" - allowing acces for everyone who uses a chair to visit and probably live there.
In partnership with benefit experts, consumers, and the like, the New Hampshire State Independent Living Council created several tip sheets. The tip sheets are designed to provide a basic overview of the topic and additional ways or links to get more in-depth information.
Phone: U.S. Customer
ThyssenKrupp Accessibility is a company of ThyssenKrupp Elevator. ThyssenKrupp Elevator is the third largest elevator company in the world. With sales of approx. 3.5 billion and over 30,000 employees at more than 800 locations, the group is active around the globe.
The strengths of ThyssenKrupp Elevator lie in decades of expertise, strong service competencies, flexibility and innovative prowess.We translate these strengths in the development of stair lifts. With over 40 years of experience we are the world's largest manufacturer of products that help people overcome stair climbing difficulties.
Access to Home Program will provide financial assistance to property owners to make dwelling units accessible for low- and moderate income persons with disabilities. Providing assistance with the cost of adapting homes to meet the needs of those with disabilities will enable individuals to safely and comfortably continue to live in their residences and avoid institutional care.
Grants will be made to municipalities and eligible not-for-profit entities and that have substantial experience in adapting or retrofitting homes for persons with disabilities. Adaptation work must meet the needs of those with physical disabilities and seniors with an age-related disability. Examples include: wheel chair ramps and lifts, handrails, easy-to-reach kitchen work and storage areas, lever handles on doors, roll-in showers with grab bars, etc.
Homeowners and renters may qualify for loan assistance through the municipality or not-for-profit entity under the following criteria: the occupant is physically disabled or has substantial difficulty with an activity of daily living because of aging; the dwelling unit is a permanent residence; and, total household income does not exceed 80 percent of area median income, or 120% of area median income if a veteran.
The program is to provide funding of up to $4 million in 2008. Loans to homeowners will be up to 100% of the total cost of the adaptations to a maximum of $25,000. Loans will be at 0% interest with payments deferred on the condition the customer resides in the modified residence. The entire loan will be forgiven at the end of a regulatory period of up to five years.
See attached file to locate your counties office for more information.