Home Modification Reform

by Steve M.
(Michigan, United States)

Home Modification Reform
: Boomer not Doomer

I reached this web site as I was looking for some type of assistance or grants for home modification reform and have read some of the articles in this web site looking for an answer.

While you credited the one person from an agency who could not give an answer as everything was directed at housing developers not individuals she gave a few possible things to look at.

Unfortunately this website has done the same thing with all good intentions. But your content does in good faith give some future hope and confirms my frustration and I imagine million others. Of course probably most of us have contacted the local, city, county state avenues.

I started with local area of aging, then state. It would of been kind of comical if it weren’t for the serous nature of the frustration, that each agency some more helpful or I should say kinder than others, give you the name of the other agencies for help, only for them to say no we have no such assistance and then redirect to the others. Some could help by giving you some basic supply sources and contractors, etc. which is ok, I guess for people who don't know where to look, (but I would tell you that their sources are over-priced suppliers and not necessarily the best contractors either.

I applaud this site for recognizing the need for assistance in home modification reform. I too have found many of my searches in anticipation for an answer only to find out that these programs would exist in other countries.

Like many other innovations, I find that the Europeans (and other countries) are shamefully ahead of us. They recognize the problem and need and provide clear cut assistance. It makes sense and recognize that it can also save money in the long run to create a supportive cultural where people can help themselves and their families.

They recognize that either individuals or their families want to live in their own homes or with their loved ones, despite their disabilities.

They do not want to be a burden for others, they just would like some assistance based on their needs. Otherwise not to, will just put more burden on the already ailing economic and health care problems faced here in the U.S. People will then not get the proper care and help and will get further debilitated due to neglect, adequate care for themselves, or accidents that will then end up costing more.

Also, remember if these individuals cannot care for themselves in their own homes or their loved ones, then they may most likely be forced to live in assisted living/nursing homes/continued care facilities, that will have to be subsidized by the funds that the assisted housing developers and continued care facilities get from other state and federal sources-- and we all know those funds will be ten fold of the cost, had they had sources for individuals or their family care-givers the funds ( full or partial based on financial need ) or tax breaks for home modifications.

For example a one-time $ 12,000 stair lift for L-Shaped staircases or $ 12,000 for kitchen and bath wheelchair modifications would cost the government and U.S. taxpayers a lot less than assisted living/nursing home, etc. whether it's 6-months or 6-years or 60 years.

Also, I noticed that there are a handful of states, which do have some assistance and some State tax relief, but very limited in amounts. Still this is better than nothing.

And it would be simple to put caps on home modification reform so that the basics would be covered, and anything else beyond that would have to come from individual or other private agency funds. This would be where for example in a kitchen or bath where material and decorative choices can vary dramatically.

No one should expect to subsidize for aesthetics beyond the basics. An ADA Toilet allowance of $250 for example. I have found some for as low as $ 198, while most start in the mid $200s but can go as high as $900.

The other countries and states recognize not only the long term, and in many cases also be a short term, money saving program, but also a positive well being solution for not only the individual, but their families or caregivers.

Note about poster: I am 5o years old, our family is looking to have my Mother who is legally blind, has controlled diabetes and some difficulty managing multiple stairs, who had been living by her self for the last six years since my father passed away. Our homes are all 2-story (and a basement), with no bedrooms on main floor. We are either looking at a stair lift, plus some bathroom and bedroom modifications upstairs, or adding a bath in basement and stair lift or adding a full bath on main floor and giving up our living room with a step down for her bedroom.

When she finally decided, as she felt she did not want to be a burden to anyone, even though we had always reassured her she would not, the timing is tough. Since especially here in Michigan, like many others here, and even those like us who are non-automotive, have either lost their jobs or underemployed.

We have looked for senior assistance and all agency levels, Veterans Administration, and Insurance. We are getting by, we live rather modestly, but also have two kids in college, financed by some academic scholarships, but mostly loans.

The only thing we could find was assistance for low cost loans 3.9 to 5.9%, (not exactly that low) which with interest put us in more debt. Again, like many of us in this situation, we are not asking for a free lunch. Many would say the fact that we are willing to take this responsibility, which we consider it more like something you want to do, or perhaps a labor of love, that this is enough to justify some type of grant or at least partial grant and the rest be tax deductible. What her needs would be would probably be paid within 6-months to the tax burden compared to the expense of a nursing home. Probably within a year if she would have a visiting nurse, etc.

By the way, these renovations would in no way increase the value to our home. And in most cases, as thousands of others who have modified their homes, would actually reduce their value.

This sheds light that we all should be better prepared for these modifications when we are younger or able body, and Universal design should
be an almost absolute when designing within cost constraints whenever possible. Need a new toilet? Put in the ADA 17-inch (Some are 16.5 comfort height). Makes Sense, comfortable for any adult, won't notice astatically. Once these universal designs become 'universally accepted', they will become the norm.

Home modification reform needs to be given financial grants and should be financial needs based for some modifications and at very least tax deductions for all others.

When I say financial need, I think we need to make it fairly generous. If I was working, I would only expect at the very least a separate tax deduction.

However, although there is some savings that is less than what we need to spend for modifications, it is anticipated that it will be needed as we are depleting it each month until I can find full employment, not to mention we have other things and repairs, etc., we have been forgoing since unemployed.

But fairly, people who are above the poverty line who are lower to mid income should get some assistance. While I am not complaining and not looking for sympathy, but to give you an idea since the government and everyone else has a different opinion on middle-class, in case you are wondering, live in a nice but modest 1,650 sq. ft. home, family of 4, but modest will soon be 5 with mom, and have 2 in college. I used to make about 50K per year and wife 20K; I now make $375 per week on unemployment but will end soon.

Although my kids get their own federal loans, we have federal parent plus loans at around $16,000 each year, since they cannot be declared as independent students. Both children recognize our struggle and are excellent students with very good chances to become employed in the healthcare market and willingly will repay back what they can (they have to pay theirs back also).

Again, we are trying to make this possible, my mom's home is only worth now $23,000 but there are several homes that have not sold for over a year. Again the other choice is, let her go into a home as a doctor will easily admit, then she like the many millions will just be a bigger cost burden to the healthcare crisis and tax payers.

We will make this work somehow and are fortunate compared to many others that have it much worse. But I think we need to extend home modification reform to not only individuals or their caretaker's home, but not only for the commercial housing groups or just below the poverty level, but the in-between.

I know people who make twice as much as us, who live in large 3,000 sq. ft. ranch homes, who would still rather let their fixed income parent go in a continued care facility, and that may be what they are comfortable with, that's fine. But give those a break that need to and want to, that will actually save us all money.

Wake up America and Legislatures. One thing for sure, we will all face this in form or another. This is something we can actually do something about, that can save some money in short run and more in the long run. Maybe the lobbyist for those commercially funded corporations that use HUD and other Federal and State sponsored grants and funds would be opposed to it ... hmm.


I would like to thank Steve M for taking the time to write this outstanding story on Home Modification Reform.
What about you! Have Your Say...
Susan - home-improvement-and-financing.com

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Nov 24, 2009
wishing on a grant
by: Simon

Thought your message was great, really rang true for me as I seem to have had similar troubles. The weatherization grants should help and I will be staying close to my Certified Housing Counselor when I can find him or her, to see if any new programs appear - thanks again and thanks to the web site

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