A very knowledgeable Greenbelt expert in resources for residents, especially seniors and people with disabilities, is City of Greenbelt employee Christal Batey. She recently gave a zoom talk about sources of aid for Marylanders who need financial help modifying their homes in order to age in place or adapt their homes to non-age-related disabilities – but that’s not all!. The big news item is that financial help is also available for regular home repairs, if the homeowner has experienced any covid-related financial hardships.
Christal’s presentation was arranged by Greenbelt Homes Inc’s Architectural Review Committee but all were invited and the useful information is applicable to all Marylanders.
Needed Modifications and Repairs Affected by Covid-Related Hardship: The Homeowner Assistance Fund Wholehome Grant (fact sheet in PDF) is a “very “hot topic” right now, according to Christal. Maryland has been allocated $10 million to disperse to Marylanders for needed home modifications and the fund will not be replenished. When it’s gone, it’s gone, so apply now!
What’s it for?
The grants are for needed modifications that homeowners cannot afford due to covid-related causes – dating since Jan 21, 2020. Examples of such covid-related hardships include decreases in family income, an increase in expenses, sickness or death in the family, childcare for essential workers and divorce or separation related to covid. The official information about the program says that for modifications to qualify for the grant, they must meet this test – that without the modification, the homeowner would be “involuntarily displaced.” But good news! Christal says this requirement seems to have “fallen by the wayside” and that the rules aren’t that stringent now.
Examples of qualifying modifications include things like wheelchair ramps but also many non-disability-related ones – fixes to roof or electric or septic systems, lead paint or asbestos removal, et cetera. The maximum amount granted is $10,000. No credit-worthiness is required, since the funds aren’t intended to be repaid.
There is a cap on the applicant’s income but it’s much more generous than for the program above.
Maximum gross income:
1 person – $135,450
2 people – $154,800
3 people – $174,150
Applications for the grant (just a 1.5 page form) must be accompanied within 60 days by a contractor’s bid for the job, plus a short, easy form the contractor must fill out (1 page). Also required are photos or drawings of the work to be done. Twenty percent of the amount of the project will be paid to contractor upon acceptance, and 80 percent at job completion. (Your contractor may or may not go for this arrangement, and the state won’t reveal names of contractors who do.)
For more information call 877-568-6105 or email Rehab.HAFApplications@maryland.gov.
What Modifications? Examples include first floor bathrooms, grab bars, Braille equipment, stair lifts and widening of doors to accommodate wheelchairs, even a wheelchair-accessible van.
Low-interest loans through the “Assistive Technology Loan Program” are for people of any age, and the applicant can be the person in need of “assistance technology” or a family member. The loans are not guaranteed; the applicant must prove their ability to repay, but rules for qualifying for the loan are less stringent than at most banks.
The amount of the loans ranges from $500 to $50,000 for secured loans, with a maximum of $10,000 for unsecured loans. Interest rates charged are below market.
Zero-Interest Loans for Seniors through “Accessible Homes for Seniors.” is a great program because not only is the interest rate zero but repayment is deferred for 30 years – so effectively, it doesn’t have to be paid back until the home is sold. The loan amount is a maximum of 110 percent of the property’s assessed worth.
There are no closing cost for the loans.
To qualify, at least one member of the family must be 55 years old, the unit must be owner-occupied, the home must be in safe condition, there can be no lien on the property and there are income requirements.
Maximum gross household incomes to qualify:
1 person – $61,150
2 people – $69,850
3 people – $78,600
First floor bathrooms aren’t automatically approved for this loan but are decided on a case-by-case basis.
NOTE: If the applicant is not determined to be credit-worthy they may apply under this program for a GRANT of up to $25,000 It’s not guaranteed and the grant request can only be made after the applicant has applied for the loan and been disqualified for lack of credit-worthiness.
Help with Loan Programs
You MAY deduct your out-of-pocket expenditures for home modifications if they’re medically necessary – a doctor’s note is required – and only the amount spent over the increase in your home’s assessment due to the modification. For example, if you spent $30,000 and your home’s appraisal went up by $20,000, you can deduct $10,000. An appraisal is thus required to assess the change due to modification
More Help, and Thanks
To access more help from Christal, she suggests calling her direct number – 240/542-2012.
Thanks to Christal for helping to spread this important information, and to Lola Skolnik, ARC chair, for making the event happen.