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How to Get Free Home Modifications for Disabled People

How to Get Free Home Modifications for Disabled People

We’ve found many organizations that offer free home modifications for disabled people and senior citizens! These programs are designed to help adults live safely and comfortably in their own homes.

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In this article, we’ll explain who is eligible for free home modifications, how these programs work and what you need to do in order to get yours.

About Home Modifications

What are home modifications?

Home modifications are changes to your home that help elderly and disabled people live safely and comfortably at home. These changes may be designed to remove safety hazards, improve mobility, or make the home more usable to you.

Some home modifications are very simple. These simple options could include replacing doorknobs with pull handles or installing grab bars in a shower.

Other home modifications are more complex. These could include widening doorways or hallways, installing mobility ramps, or lowering countertops.

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Any change to your home that makes it safer or more usable to you would be considered a home modification.

What home modifications can I get?

We’ve found many different programs that offer free home modifications for disabled people. The types of modifications covered by these programs vary, but typically include:

  • Bathroom modifications (installing a roll-in shower, grab bars, or modified toileting accessories)
  • Clutter removal
  • Grab bars
  • Door modifications (swapping doorknobs for levers, installing automatic openers, etc.)
  • Floor modifications (installing non-slip surfaces or reducing carpet thickness)
  • Ramps
  • Visual alarms and doorbells

Who is eligible for free home modifications?

In order to be eligible for a free home modifications program, you will need to be able to prove that you need them. Typically, these programs will require you to meet certain minimum age requirements or prove that you have a disability that requires modifications.

If you have a hard time getting around your home or you are at risk of falling, you will typically be eligible for these programs.

FREE Home Modification Programs

There are many different programs that can help you get free home modifications for disabled people and seniors. We have a comprehensive list of every home modification grant we’ve found in our home repair guide, so be sure to check there as well.

Area Agency on Aging

The federal government gives money to the Area Agencies on Aging to help seniors and people with disabilities receive free home modifications and repairs. These funds are in accordance with the Older Americans Act.

You can easily find your local Area Agency on Aging by calling the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. This hotline will help you contact your local agency so you can ask them about home modification assistance.

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Housing Improvement Program

The Housing Improvement Program is administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is only available to members of federally-recognized Indian Tribes for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.

In order to be eligible for this program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a member of a federally-recognized Tribe.
  • You must live in an approved Tribal service area.
  • You must have an income that does not exceed 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • You must have a substandard housing situation, as defined by regulators.
  • You must have no other resources to improve your housing.

This program can provide up to $60,000 in repairs and renovations to bring your home up to code. You can also receive up to $7,500 to repair conditions that make your home unsafe or unhealthy for you.

In order to receive these funds, you need to fill out the application and turn it in to your local Tribal servicing office.

Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together is a nationwide organization that offers home repair assistance to low income people. Specifically, they coordinate volunteers and contractors to improve the health and safety of homes so that seniors and people with disabilities can continue to live safely in their homes.

Although all Rebuilding Together organizations appear to offer free home modifications for disabled people, some branches of this organization have strict residency rules. For example, the Arlington / Fairfax / Falls Church branch of Rebuilding Together, they focus on serving seniors and people with disabilities who plan to live in their homes for at least another two years.

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You can apply for help from your local Rebuilding Together affiliate.

Rural Housing Loans & Grants

If you are at least 62 years old and live in a low income household, you may be able to get funding from the USDA’s Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants to modify your existing home. This program is commonly known as the Section 504 Home Repair Program.

In order to qualify for this program, you must meet these requirements:

  • You must own your own home in an eligible area.
  • You must live in the home that you own.
  • You must be unable to afford credit elsewhere.
  • You must have a household income that meets the limits for your county.
  • You must be age 62 or older (to receive a grant; loans are available to other ages)

Through this loan program, you could receive up to $10,000 in grants and/or up to $40,000 in loans to modify your home. You can apply through your local Rural Development office.

Veterans Programs

We have found several organizations that offer free home repair modifications for disabled veterans. However, since these programs are limited to veterans, we have created a second post for those resources. You can find that list here.

Weatherization Assistance Program

Weatherization Assistance Program benefits are often bundled with LIHEAP benefits. This program can help you improve the energy-efficiency of your home while also reducing your utility bills.

When I received assistance from this program in 2017, we received over $18,000 in free home improvements. The program paid for new windows, lights, increased insulation, and so much more. It was incredible!

State Disability Modification Programs

There are many organizations in every state that can provide free home modifications for disabled people and seniors. You can find a list of state-by-state resources in our free home repair grants guide.

Other Resources

There are other organizations that are rumored to provide free home modifications for disabled people and seniors. However, I was not able to confirm this information directly.

If you would like to reach out to them yourselves, please contact your local branch of these organizations:

  • Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks
  • Easter Seal Society
  • Lions Club International

Tips & Tricks

Unfortunately, not everyone who is eligible for home modifications will get them. These programs are chronically under-funded, which means they don’t have enough money to help everyone.

Apply everywhere.

Be prepared for denials but don’t be discouraged. There are programs that can help you, but you have to be persistent in order to get that assistance!

You may need to apply to several different programs or apply multiple times in order to receive assistance. Some of these programs are annual, meaning that you can apply every year until you receive assistance.

Disabled = elderly

Many of these free home modification programs use “disability” and “elderly” interchangeably. After all, the unique challenges of aging are the same challenges that many people with disabilities face at younger ages.

Younger people who are struggling with disabilities should contact all the agencies listed, even if they say “senior” or “elderly” or “aged.” That’s because these programs often serve people who meet age limits or disability requirements.

Document your disability.

You do not need to receive formal disability benefits like Social Security Disability or VA Benefits in order to receive help from most of these programs.

However, you will be expected to clearly explain your disability and limitations. It helps if you can clearly and concisely explain what is going on. If you have documentation, that’s even better.

Renters are often eligible.

Think you can’t take advantage of these free home modifications for disabled people just because you’re renting? Think again!

Many of these programs will help renters, as long as you can get your landlords permission to make the modifications. Some landlords will jump at the chance to accept these free improvements since they can improve the value of the rental property as well.

Summary

There are many different programs that offer free home modifications for disabled people and seniors. These options include federal programs run by government organizations like the VA and USDA, as well as offerings from smaller state initiatives and local nonprofits.

Remember, while the process to apply for these grants may seem daunting, the benefits far outweigh the initial effort. Proper home modifications can significantly enhance your quality of life, increasing safety, accessibility, and independence. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and utilize the resources available to you. You’re not alone in your journey, and these programs exist specifically to provide the help you need. Stay resilient and patient as you explore the options that best suit your needs. Your comfort and wellbeing are worth it.