Learn about the types of grants available to renovate a home. The changes to a home made with these funds can help prepare your home for later life.
Renovations to all homes are needed periodically. Everything from kitchen ranges to water heaters need replacing eventually. Paint is needed every few years. New energy efficient appliances roll out and can be boons for seniors on fixed incomes, as they tend to lower costs.
As people age, their needs change, too. Some renovations help meet those needs. If senior citizens have resided in their homes for a long period of time, renovations will be necessary no matter how well maintenance has been performed.
Seniors may need renovations to make their homes accessible. Grab bars in bathrooms can make slippery surfaces like showers and wet floors much safer if seniors have arthritis, vision or other mobility issues. Vision issues may necessitate new lighting. Stairs may need to be made safer for arthritis sufferers.
Aging in place is popular, but homes may require substantial renovation to make it work.
Keep Project Costs Affordable
Although grants and other forms of financial assistance can ease the economic burden of home renovation, they may not cover all project costs.
To keep project costs affordable, there are some tips senior citizens should keep in mind.
- Ask about affordability of materials. Ask the contractor if the work would be less expensive with other materials. A wheelchair ramp might be less expensive in another type of material.
- Check on equipment costs. If a contractor must use an unusual piece of equipment in the renovation, 100% utilization is equal to 22 days or 176 hours. If your project will take significantly less than that, it’s cheaper to rent the equipment.
Get multiple estimates. Get estimates on any renovation project from at least three contractors. Prices can vary from place to place, and each will give you more information on the pricing on the project.
Renovations can be very expensive, and that can be a problem for people on a fixed income, as many seniors are, but financial help to make necessary renovations is possible. A number of organizations offer grants for those looking for home renovations to keep up with growing needs, here are some ways to get help.
For low-income seniors who are Medicaid, many states have a waiver specifically to make it possible for them to stay at home and not have to go into nursing homes. They will pay for renovations that modify a home to help people independently.
The waiver is under the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services program. Because each state differs, people interested in the waiver will have to call their local Medicaid office.
State and Local Grants
States and local governments may have programs that, like the Medicaid ones, are designed to offer financial assistance for home renovations that will allow elderly people to age at home rather than moving into nursing homes. They are a mixture of grants, loans and other financial aid.
They may be called “nursing home diversion programs” or “deferred payment loans”. The renovations may include health or accessibility modifications or energy-related renovations, such as insulation and weather stripping. Again, because states and localities differ, it’s best to contact the local office of the National Council of State Housing Agencies to inquire about available programs.
There are several types of U.S. government grants available to qualified citizens. Two of the most helpful are for rural homeowners and veterans.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a Rural Development program for both grants and loans to elderly or disabled low-income people in rural areas. The funds are designated specifically for home improvement and repairs. Although the grants and loans are federal, the local USDA office needs to be contacted for requirements and eligibility.
For veterans and service members, the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) offers a number of grants. The first is a specially adapted housing (SAH) grant. This grant is designed to adapt a home for a wheelchair other mobility devices or to remove barriers in the home. It is intended for disabilities more than aging, but are worth a try for eligible parties.
The second is a special housing adaptation (SHA) grant. This is designed for renovations that increase mobility throughout the house.
The third is a home improvements and structural alterations (HISA) grant. This grant is designed for continuation of treatment, disability access and sanitary facilities alterations.
Finally, veterans are eligible for a number of home-based services that are intended to let them stay in their homes while needing health and other care. The program is entitled Home and Community Based Services.
Financial Assistance for Energy Savings
The U.S. Department of Energy offers a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP and a Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP. Both provide financial assistance to modify homes for energy expenditure and cost reduction, which can help senior’s pocketbooks.
The Department of Energy also provides a page searchable by state to local tax credits, rebates and savings. These can make energy efficient modifications more affordable.
The freedom to age at home should be available to all seniors, and a few modifications can make that happen. Do some research to see if your home modifications can be covered with one of these grants.