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Home Financing & Renovation for People Who Use Wheelchairs
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Home Financing & Renovation for People Who Use Wheelchairs

We all want to find sanctuary in our homes. It’s the one place that we should feel safe and comfortable. For those with disabilities, this is especially true, because much of the world outside those four walls is an unaccommodating place.

Unfortunately, it can get pretty pricey to maintain, update or modify a house with professional accessibility renovations in mind. For homeowners, this could mean dipping into your life savings, refinancing a mortgage, pulling a home equity line of credit, or exploring your other refinancing options. There is help available if you know where to look.

With access to the right home renovation resources, lender programs and knowledge of tax deductions, you’ll be on your way to keeping quality of life in house. Home improvement projects take a lot of planning and patience, so you’ll have to determine if you want to undertake a DIY home renovation or hire contractors to do the work.

Federal Resources

A Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Section 203(k) loan allows someone to borrow money for both the purchase of a home and needed improvements. You can get an FHA 203(k) loan solely for home renovations, but there may be better options available.

“An FHA 203k loan provides flexible home financing to purchase or refinance a home while simultaneously funding its renovation,” according to RubyHome. “It’s an all-in-one program, rolled into a single FHA-insured mortgage. It’s used for home renovations of all shapes and sizes, either for smaller repairs or large scale improvements. The program comes in two flavors, the Standard 203k which has been around since 1978 and the Limited 203k which has been around since 1995 (the flavor formerly known as ‘Streamline 203k’).”

One of the most common uses of a FHA 203(k) loan is retrofitting a home for a person with disabilities, although it’s available for all types of repairs. Choosing the right loan for you will depend on how much you need to finance and how much equity you have in your home, for starters.

Apply for Grants

Taking the time to research disability-related grants available would be well worth your time, as many federal and state programs exist to help people just like you! HomeAdvisor has compiled an extensive list of resources for homeowners with disabilities. Here are a few grants up for grabs:

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has two grants for service members and veterans with disabilities to help them buy or build a new adapted home or to modify an existing home. One is called the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant, and the other is the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant. The maximum available for an SAH grant to adapt a home is $35,593, and for the SHA grant it’s $6,355.

Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit that helps people build new homes or modify existing ones. They completed about 10,000 rebuild projects throughout the country last year. They are known for working with families who have at least one member with a disability. The organization aims to make homes safer and more accessible.

The Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program is a USDA-funded program that provides loans and grants to low-income homeowners who need to repair, upgrade and improve their residences to ensure health and safety standards are met within their homes. Grant recipients must be at least 62 years of age. State offices of the USDA also offer assistance at the local level. For those seniors aging in place, this program may be especially beneficial.

Tax Deductions

You may be able to claim medical tax deductions for home improvements related to a disability or other medical needs. Some of the tax deductible items include:

  • Construction of an entrance or exit ramp
  • Widening of doorways
  • Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets
  • Modifying hardware on doors
  • Adding handrails and grab bars

The amount you can deduct is limited to the “extent that the expenditures exceed the amount of the increase in the value of the property affected. If the value of the property has not increased, then the entire cost of the improvement is deductible as a medical expense,” according to Ray Martin of CBS MoneyWatch.

Another way to pay for medical equipment or modifications is with your health savings or flexible spending account.

Owning and maintaining a house is probably the biggest investment of your life, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before taking on a renovation project. For those living with disabilities, limited mobility, or for those living on a fixed income, paying the mortgage can be a struggle, let alone getting financing for necessary home improvements. Luckily there is help widely available.

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