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The Team at ALSO

January 31, 2023

What to Know About Home Accessibility Grants

What is a Home Accessibility Grant?

A home accessibility grant is a sum of money or services provided to an individual or an organization for the purpose of making the home environment safer and more accessible. Grants are different from loans in that they don’t have to be repaid. They are also called home modification grants, home repair grants, environmental modifications, and environmental safety modification grants.

Home modification grants are extremely beneficial to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities because the resulting accessibility improvements allow them to live safely and independently in their own homes. Independent living is a major step towards full community inclusion…and at ALSO, this is exactly what we’re about. In our 25 years of Heart Work as one of Oregon’s best nonprofit disability service providers, we have seen how home accessibility modifications have facilitated amazing transformations in the lives of people with disabilities.

Let’s talk about how we can work together to help our friends and loved ones in achieving the dream of living on their own.

What do Home Accessibility Grants Cover?

Home modification grants provide financial assistance to individuals and/or their family members for a wide variety of home improvements. We may have all heard about wheelchair ramps and grab bars, but there are many other assistive technologies that (depending on grant program requirements) may qualify as accessibility improvements:

  1. Roll-in showers
  2. Stair lifts
  3. Widening of hallways and doorways
  4. Adjusting the height of countertops and sinks
  5. Easy-to-reach outlets and light switches
  6. Installation of climate control systems

Thanks to research and an innovative spirit, designers, engineers, and other professionals are continuously developing new ways of assisting all people with disabilities to function in the least restrictive environment possible.

Not all grants are the same. Some apply only to modifications that are located inside the home. Although most organizations would likely cover the ramps or railing necessary to get inside, they might not cover something like access to a patio or gardening area. Additionally, some may include structural alterations such as widening hallways and doorways, but not home repair of those modifications that have already been made.

CHECK IT OUT: Take a look at these amazing accessibility modifications in Sam’s Home Tour!

How Do I Know if I am Eligible for a Home Accessibility Grant?

All home improvement grants have specific eligibility criteria. For many people, including experienced grant writers, determining these criteria can be quite a complex task. Indeed, it can be frustrating to toil through a complex application process, discovering in the end that you weren’t eligible in the first place. As you proceed through your grant search, we suggest that you ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are grant awards available for individuals throughout the United States? Or just certain cities, states, or regions of the country?
  2. Do grant recipients need to have a specific type of disability? Such as an intellectual or developmental disability, or acquired brain injury?
  3. What about requirements for specific types of employment or vocations? Many grants are available for eligible veterans and service members, such as specially adapted housing (SAH grants).
  4. Is there an income limit? Most eligibility criteria for home modification grants specify a certain household income. Some require the recipients to be low-income homeowners (as opposed to renters or those living with guardians or family members).
  5. Any age requirements? There are a multitude of grants available for elders and senior citizens.
  6. Does the type of geographical area matter? For example, some organizations provide grant awards specifically to those living in rural areas.

In figuring out if you meet grant eligibility criteria, you don’t need to go it alone. Most grant making organizations welcome questions. Additionally, feel free to contact ALSO. We’d be happy to help in any way we can—email or call 503-489-6565.

How Do I Apply for Disability Grants for Home Modifications?

Start at the Beginning

Admittedly, it’s tempting to jump immediately into filling out several grant applications as soon as possible. We suggest first taking time to gain an understanding of what’s needed.

If you’re a person with an intellectual or developmental disability, we suggest that you make a list of activities and tasks that will help you become more independent and safe at home. Consider things that are important to you, such as being able to cook your own meals. It’s always okay to get advice from others. They probably have a lot of great ideas!

For those who belong to the person’s support system, it’s extremely important to ask questions about the type of accessibility modifications they might need. After all, they know themselves best! In addition, professional caregivers, case managers, and healthcare providers have specific knowledge of neurological, behavioral, cognitive, and physical disabilities. They often have excellent insight into the best assistive devices, structural alterations, and technologies.

CHECK IT OUT: Home Accessibility Solutions for People with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

Filling Out the Grant Application

Most organizations require an application. At first glance, the application can look daunting, especially for some of the larger foundations. Just take the process step-by-step and ask questions along the way. You’ll get there!

There’s often a great deal of additional information that must be attached to the application. For example:

  • Current financial resources and disability benefits
  • Medical history
  • Medical expenses
  • Insurance documents (such as Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, SSDI)
  • Documents from healthcare providers, case managers

Before sending off that application, it’s always a good idea to double check and make sure that you have all of the required documents.

Grant applications often have very strict submission deadlines. Plan ahead so that you can get your application in on time.

CHECK IT OUT: Get some great information here on the costs of several common accessible modifications.

Are There Other Options Available if I am Unable to Get a Grant?

It’s always possible that a grant request is turned down, or for some reason, you just can’t find one that fits your situation. Don’t worry–  it happens to the best of us, no matter how hard we try. If it’s feasible, you might want to contact the funding organization to learn why you didn’t receive the grant award.

There are also other options available to get the modifications, critical repairs, structural alterations, and assistive technology that you need for your home.

  1. Low-interest loans are available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Two such programs are the Title I Property Improvement Loan Program and the Section 203 (k) Loan Program.
  2. The IRS has designated a number of home modifications that can be counted as tax deductions. These include and aren’t limited to ramps, support bars, and altered cabinets.
  3. In Oregon, people with disabilities who are Medicaid beneficiaries may be eligible for a Home and Community-Based (HCBS) Waiver. Benefits can include home modifications such as ramps, vehicle modifications, and other assistive technologies that facilitate independent living.

Like grant opportunities, loans, tax deductions, and Medicaid Waiver programs have specific eligibility criteria. Try to get a knowledgeable staff member to help out.

Home Accessibility Grants Summary

Now that we have navigated through the rather complex world of home accessibility and modification grants, let’s go over the important points once again.

  1. Not all grants are the same, different grants cover different types of modifications.
  2. Eligibility criteria vary according to the goals of the grant making organization. Examples of criteria include age, type of disability, geographic location.
  3. Grant applications often have very strict submission deadlines.
  4. Tax breaks, loans, and insurance benefits, like grants, also have specific eligibility criteria. Take time to carefully read the materials and ask questions.

The Bigger Picture and Why you Should Donate to ALSO

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you, as a parent, friend, or relative, knew that the person you care about was thriving safely and happily in their own home? Wouldn’t it be great if you, your friends, or your family members who might have a disability were free of constraining barriers (such as stairs) in the communities where they work, play, and interact with others? At ALSO, we are strong advocates of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and work hard for a future in which all people enjoy full inclusion in vibrant, diverse communities.

Even though we provide accessible housing, organizations like ALSO aren’t eligible for the types of funding opportunities that we have described. This is why we request donations to provide residential and supportive living services that include real homes based on the highest standards of home accessibility. Your kind donation will help us ensure that everyone has the same opportunities at home, in the workplace, and in the community. Be a partner in our Heart Work!

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