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Home Modification and Repair

Why Is Home Modification and Repair Important? | Financial Assistance | Good News for Renters | Where to Get Help | Using a Contractor | Additional Information

 

Home Modification and Repair includes adaptations to homes that can make it easier and safer to carry out activities such as bathing, cooking, and climbing stairs and alterations to the physical structure of the home to improve its overall safety and condition.

WHY IS HOME MODIFICATION AND REPAIR IMPORTANT?

  • Home modification and repair can help prevent accidents such as falls. Research suggests that one-third to one-half of home accidents can be prevented by modification and repair.
  • Home modification and repair can allow people to remain in their homes. Older people tend to live in older homes that often need repairs and modifications. Over 60% of older persons live in homes more than 20 years old. Home modification and repair can accommodate lifestyle changes and increase comfort.

How Can Home Modification and Repairs Promote Independence and Prevent Accidents?

TYPICAL PROBLEMS:

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

Difficulty getting in and out of the shower

Install grab bars, shower seals or transfer benches

Slipping in the tub or shower

Place non-skid strips or decals in the tub or shower

Difficulty turning faucet handles/doorknobs

Replace with lever handles

Access to home

Install ramps

Inadequate heating or ventilation

Install insulation, storm windows and air conditioning

Problems climbing staffs

Install handrails for support

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Some home modification and repair programs make loans or provide services free of charge or at reduced rates for eligible older people. For more information, contact:

USDA, Rural Development (formerly Farmers Home Administration): Offers 1% interest repair loans to very low and elderly home-owners and repair grants to the elderly that qualify. Call USDA the USDA Office of Communications at (202) 720-2791 to request the field office that covers the applicant's area.

Local Community Development Department: Many cities and towns use Community Development Block Grants to help citizens maintain and upgrade their homes.

Local Welfare or Energy Department: Two programs from the Low- income Home Energy Assistance. Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) of the U.S. Department of Energy, provide funds to weatherize the homes of lower income persons.

Physician or Health Care Provider: Funds from Medicare and Medicaid are available for durable medical equipment with a doctor's prescription.

Local Area Agency on Aging: Funds from the Older Americans Act Title III often can be used to modify and repair homes.

Local Lenders and Banks: Some lenders offer Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM's) that allow homeowners to turn the value of theft home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan payments.

GOOD NEWS FOR RENTERS

The Fair Housing Act of 1988 Section 6(a) makes it illegal for landlords to refuse to let tenants make reasonable modifications to their house or apartment if the tenant is willing to pay for the changes. The law also requires new construction of dwellings with four or more units to include features such as wheelchair accessibility, reinforced walls to accommodate later installation of grab bars in bathrooms, and accessible electrical outlets and thermostats.

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