Homeowners or their family members who are injured, disabled, or elderly often require accessibility upgrades to ensure their homes are safe and working well for them. These projects often include making doorways wider, adding ramps, putting in handrails, and more.
For those who are worried about the costs of making such updates, there are a number of disability grants for home improvements that can help.
Federal Disability Grants for Home Improvements
There are several federal grants that can help you cover the costs of disability-related home upgrades. These grants are money you don't have to pay back.
Grants for Veterans
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grants: In fiscal year 2021, qualifying veterans who own their homes and have a service-related disability can get up to three grants worth a total of $100,896.
- Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grants: Some veterans may also qualify for up to three of these grants, worth a total of $20,215 in fiscal year 2021.
- Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant: These grants are designed for improving the home of a family member if a veteran must live there temporarily. The terms are the same as with the two programs listed above. The amounts for fiscal year 2020 are $4,0637 if you qualify for an SAH grant, and $7,256 if you qualify for an SHA grant. You can apply for the SAH, SHA, and TRA grants via the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
- Home Improvements and Structural Alteration (HISA) Grants: These can be used for certain changes to your home. Veterans can get up to $6,800 in lifetime aid from this program.
Grants for Low-Income, Rural Homeowners
For low-income people living in certain rural parts of the U.S., the Department of Agriculture offers the Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program. Only people 62 and older can get these grants, which go up to $7,500. But note that if the home is sold in less than three years, you might have to return the money.
Grants for American Indian and Native American Tribes
Members of federally recognized American Indian and Native American tribes can get grants through the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Housing Improvement Program (HIP). The program does not provide disability grants, but instead offers up to $60,000 to help improve your home.
If you qualify for Medicare Part B, you can use your benefits to cover the costs of “durable medical equipment” for your home, such as hospital beds, patient lifts, toilet chairs, and more.
State Grants and Programs
In addition to the federal government, many states also offer a number of grants you can use to revamp your home to make it easier to use. For example, Maine offers a Home Accessibility and Repair Program for low-income people who need money to make changes to their home, including upgrades for people living with a disability. Illinois also offers a Home Accessibility Program that provides funding to local governments and nonprofit groups in the state so that they can help people with disabilities stay in their homes.
To see what programs are in your area, check with:
- Your state/city housing or housing finance agency
- Your state/city health or human services department
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in your state
Private Disability Grants for Home Improvements
Finally, there are also private grants you can use to pay to improve your home. These often come from community groups, nonprofits, and private firms.
Here are just a few you may consider:
- Travis Roy Foundation Grant: These are for disabled homeowners with spinal cord injuries due to sudden unexpected accidents only. Grants average about $3,000, with a maximum of $5,000, though the board may approve partial funding for larger amounts.
- Rebuilding Together: This volunteer group offers no-cost home repairs and upgrades. See RebuildingTogether.org to find a branch in your area.
- Self-Sufficiency Grants: These are offered by the Modest Needs Foundation, and are available to low-income homeowners. The application can be filled out online in about 30 to 45 minutes.
For other private grant programs you might be able to access, check with your local chamber of commerce, disability advocacy groups, charities, community organizations, and nonprofits (particularly those focused on veterans, seniors, or specific diseases and disabilities).
Your city’s agency on aging may also be a good place to go for help with accessibility home improvements.
Other Ways to Fund Home Improvements
If you cannot get a grant, there are other low-cost ways to pay for these changes to your home. The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation loan may be a good option. This loan allows you to refinance your current mortgage, rolling the cost of revamping your home into your balance.
Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage and Freddie Mac’s CHOICERenovation Mortgages may also be good options to look at. Make sure you shop around with a few lenders before you apply for a loan. This will allow you to get the best rate.
The Bottom Line
- There are a number of federal grants that can help disabled homeowners cover the costs of accessibility improvements. Veterans, in particular, have many options.
- States also offer a variety of home improvement grants that may be helpful. These vary, so check with your state agencies for guidance.
- Private groups such as nonprofits, advocacy groups, and others provide grants that can help offset costs. Check with your local chamber of commerce or agency on aging for help finding these options.
- If you don’t qualify for a grant, there are low-cost loans you may be able to use to pay for your improvements. The FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all offer renovation-specific loan products. You may also qualify for a personal home improvement loan from a private lender.