Home repairs can be a costly undertaking for many seniors, especially those who live by themselves and don’t have enough retirement funds. But home improvement is important for them to have a comfortable living. In addition to repairs, they may also require some home modifications to ensure their safety.
The good news is there are various sources of assistance available for seniors especially those who are in need of emergency home repairs. Whether it’s roof or water pipes, fixing leaks for instance can be costly and should not be put aside until a later time.
State and Local Programs
Programs provided by the local and state governments are available in the form of deferred payment loans as well as grants to eligible seniors. Apart from emergency repairs, these programs may also cover home modifications that typically involve accessibility improvements, such as installation of wheelchair ramps, grab bars and handrails, as well as usual home improvements like roofing, insulation work, heating and cooling repair, etc.
There are many non-profit organizations that assist seniors living on their own. Rebuilding Together, specifically helps low-income seniors, veterans and their families, people with disabilities, as well as victims of calamities rebuild their homes. The Area Agency on Aging is also a great resource for those looking for non-profit organizations that provide assistance to seniors looking to repair or modify their homes. Furthermore, each locality has a housing or community development department where they can seek additional help and information.
Taking care of seniors is among the top priorities of the federal government. There are a plethora of assistance programs aimed at making older adults healthy, safe, and happy, ranging from healthcare plans to housing assistance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for instance, provides HUD insured loans through private lenders to support the financial needs of seniors when it comes to home repairs and improvement. This means they will have access to low-interest personal loans online or through local lenders with easy and flexible payment terms. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Rural Development program, offers grants and loans to qualified low-income elderly. The maximum loan a senior can get is $20,000 while grants have a lifetime limit of $7,500. Some applicants can even avail of a combination of grant and loan. This is according to the Section 504 Home Repair program of the USDA.
For veterans, there are additional sources of home repair assistance, such as SAH, SHA and HISA grants. In addition, the Veterans-Directed Home and Community Based Services program, gives veterans who remain in their homes some financial assistance wherein they have some discretion as to where they are going to use the fund. This is a great way to cover for an emergency home repair.
Discounted Contractor Services
Some home contractors offer home modification and repair services at a discounted price exclusively for seniors while others charge clients on a sliding scale. It is a great idea to inquire about their senior programs (if any) when asking for estimates or having consultations.
This program is provided to seniors 62 years old and above who own their home (or still have small remaining balance) and are currently living there. The reverse mortgage lets them convert part of their home equity into cash, which can be used for improvements. However, reverse mortgages are expensive loans and should be used as a last resort.
Medicaid and Medicare Housing-Related Services
Not necessarily for emergency repairs, Medicaid and Medicare programs also provide some sort of financial help to seniors so they can live comfortably and safely in their own homes through home modifications and medical equipment like wheelchairs or hospital beds. Each state has different eligibility requirements so it is important for seniors to contact their local Medicaid office for information.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This is provided to households and seniors whose income fall below the average and are in need of energy crisis assistance. Through the LIHEAP, they can pay for heating and cooling energy bills, weatherization, and other energy-related home expenses. For more information, seniors may contact their respective LIHEAP local office.
Many seniors choose to live independently in their own homes. But just like them, over time, their homes get a little frail and will certainly have some broken or damaged areas that need to be fixed. Emergency home repairs are no doubt costly. In fact, according to a 2016 survey, most americans have to scramble to cover the cost. It can be much more difficult for seniors who no longer have a steady source of income and are simply relying on their retirement benefits. Thankfully, there are several ways to get the financial help they need to keep their homes safe and comfortable to live in.