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By our sheer numbers and interests, Baby Boomers are destined to change retirement forever. Many of us will continue to work; others will "downshift" or move to the Sun Belt. Find help with your dream here.
Funding Help with Home Modifications

Thinking about remodeling your home to make it safer to live in as you age? It’s often a less expensive alternative to moving to assisted living. Harry Burns, a Certified Aging-in-Place specialist of Home Evolutions LLC, outlines some funding sources to help defray some of your costs.


According to the Older Women’s League, costs have increased 15 percent since 2006. The average base price of an assisted living unit is now $2,905 monthly, while nursing home care costs about $192 daily with an average length of stay being two and a half years.


To contrast that, for easy access in and out of your home, a small ramp can cost only $2,500.  Bathroom remodeling may cost you about $6,000.  So the $8,500 total you spend can keep you in your home for the rest of your life.  That same $8,500 will only get you less than three months at an assisted living facility and only 44 days in a nursing home!


Although the initial costs may seem high at first, you will definitely save over the long term.


But what if you need help to pay for these home modifications?  While most of Home Evolutions’ customers pay for home modifications out-of-pocket, we know that cost is a real concern for some people.


According to the NAHB Remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), there are some funding sources available (for those who qualify) that could help to finance remodeling projects that incorporate Universal Design.


While some of these funding options are also restricted by age or disability, others are limited to those who live in certain geographic locations, or are reserved for those who meet strict income and resource criteria.


The following is a list of some of the potential funding sources for home modifications.  Not all of these programs are available in all areas or to everyone.  Please contact them directly to see if you qualify.


  • Assistive Technology Funding and Systems Change Project--United Cerebral Palsy Associations (UCPA):  UCPA provides funding information on equipping homes with technical support to promote independent living. Call 800.872.5827 for details.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):  The USDA has created the Rural Development Home Repair Loan and Grant Programs (known as Section 504 programs) to provide assistance to those who live in areas with a population less than 10,000. This program provides low-interest loans to homeowners of all ages, and grants to individuals over the age of 62 (who meet specified income criteria) in order to assist with home repairs and make homes accessible for people with disabilities.  Contact the USDA Service Center nearest you for more information. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/contacts.html.


  • State Assistive Technology (AT) Projects:  Several states have initiated home modification programs through their statewide Assistive Technology program (http://www.resna.org/taproject/at/statecontacts.html). These programs can provide trial equipment as well as low-interest loans for the purchase of assistive technology or home modifications for individuals with disabilities.


  • National Council on Independent Living Center:  The center provides information on how to get funding and referral services in your area.  Call 703. 525.3406 or 703.524.3407 (TDD).


  • Area Agency on Aging:  Some Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) use funds from the Older Americans Act Title III to modify homes. Contact your local AAA to find out if programs are available in your area. To locate the nearest AAA, call 800.677.1116.


  • Department of Veterans Affairs:  Veterans with disabilities should contact their service officer to determine how much modification the VA will fund. Call 800. 827.1000.


  • Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program:  This federal program provides help for homeowners with moderate incomes to buy, build, improve, repair or rehabilitate rural homes. Call 202.720.4323 for more information.


  • Independent Living Centers:  These centers provide information and referrals on how to get funding in your area. For the one nearest you, contact the National Council on Independent Living Centers at 703.525.3406 (V); 703.524.3407 (TDD).


  • Medicare and Medicaid:  Medicare and Medicaid will pay for medically necessary, durable medical equipment as prescribed by a doctor. Call the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 410.786.3000. Some private health insurance and long-term care insurance plans also pay for limited home modifications. Check with your insurance provider.


  • Reverse Mortgages:  A reverse mortgage enables seniors or persons with disabilities to convert part of the equity in their homes into tax-free income without having to sell their home or take on a new, monthly mortgage payment. Free counseling is available from a HUD-approved housing, counseling agency. Call 888.466.3487 for more information.


  • Tax Savings:  The IRS allows people with disabilities to claim as a deduction, the cost of some home modifications.  Tax deductions are allowed for certain modifications such as installing ramps, widening doorways, modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment, etc. Check with your accountant for details or call the Internal Revenue Service at 800.829.1040.


By Harry Burns, CAPS


Harry Burns, a Certified Aging-in-Place specialist, is founder of Home Evolutions LLC (http://www.homeevolutions.com/) which provides customized, high-quality building and remodeling services for people with disabilities and older adults wishing to maintain their independence.  His company specializes in assessment, modification, design/build and maintenance services.

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