What Financial Resources are Available?
Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) grants
Accessible Rental Housing – Although landowners are legally required to allow accessibility modifications, often tenants must cover the costs themselves. This program is intended to help in these situations. Up to $1,800 per rental unit is available to tenants with disabilities who earn 80% or less of the area median income (AMI) for rental home modifications.
Granting Freedom – The granting freedom program has been established to help disabled veterans, injured while serving our country, modify their home to provide freedom of mobility. Up to $4,000 is available for each dwelling unit. Over $1 million in funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Julia Perkinson is the grant administrator.
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VHCD) grants
Livable Home Tax Credit – Tax credits are available for up to $5,000 for the purchase of a new accessible residence and up to 50 percent, not to exceed $5,000, of the cost of modifying existing units to meet access needs. A press release on the expansion of this tax credit starting with the 2011 tax year is available here.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants
Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loans – The Department of Agriculture offers home repair loans to very low-income rural homeowners that can be used for accessibility improvements for single-family homes. The loan is for 20 years at a 1% rate, and it’s available for homeowners age 62 and older. The USDA office for our region is in Culpeper.
NewWell Fund – Also known as the “Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority,” the NewWell fund is a state program for Virginia residents with a disability. Low-interest loans are available to acquire assistive technology, which includes home modifications.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Specially Adapted Housing grant program – The goal of the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program is to provide a barrier-free living environment that affords the veterans or servicemembers who have been injured serving our country a level of independent living. A veteran may use the grant for up to 50% of remodeling costs, with a fixed maximum that is adjusted annually.
Virginia Department of Historic Preservation
Rehabilitation Tax Credits – If you live in a home that is on the National Register of Historic Places or eligible for inclusion, there may be tax credits available for any rehabilitation, including home modification for accessibility.
Repair and Rehabilitation Fund (RRF) - This loan fund, available through Piedmont Housing Alliance, provides 0% interest funds for home safety repairs and rehabilitation for owner-occupied homes in rural areas (portions of Albemarle County, plus the counties of Fluvanna, Louisa, Greene, and Nelson). Funded projects can include wheel chair ramps, grab bars, safety railings, roof and structural repairs, and other modifications.
Real Estate Tax Exemption – All localities in our region offer real estate tax exemptions for elderly and disabled homeowners. While not directly pinned to home modification, the extra income might help defray the costs of accessibility improvements.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)– Also known as a “reverse mortgage,” this financial tool allows elderly homeowners to draw on the equity of their home to provide an income stream. This money can be used toward home modifications. To be eligible the householder must be 62 or older, must own their home outright (or be very close), and must live in the home. HECMs require prior consultation, which is available for free in the following nearby FHA-approved offices:
Richmond – Clearpoint Financial Services
Roanoke – CCCS of Southwestern Virginia/ American Credit Counselors
Manassas – Prince William County Virginia Cooperative Extension
Consultation is also available in Charlottesville from Walt Simpson, New American Mortgage.
Other Financial Options – There are several other ways that individuals can use their own means to help fund home modifications. Many long Term Care Insurance policies will accept claims for necessary home medications. Additionally, tax-deductable home equity loans can be used to leverage the value of your home to acquire the resources needed to improve it. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information with more details on private financing options.