Chapter 13: You’re Entitled to Free Money - VA Housing Grants
Combining a Housing Grant with the SoCalVAHomes
Dreamweaver Home Purchase Process™
In this chapter we will discuss some very special VA housing grants that are offered by the Department of Veteran's Affairs, especially the Specially Adapted Housing Grant that can provide significant assistance to disabled Veterans when purchasing or renovating a home, using your VA benefits.
Disability has always been a part of my life. My brother had a stroke when he was twenty-one, and he's nearly sixty now. Although he is independent in some ways, he needs a variety of support systems to live a full life. Also, I have a son who was diagnosed with autism when he was two. Now nineteen, he needs an even more rigorous set of support systems than my brother. And to live a full, satisfying life as an adult, my son’s array of support systems must continue to evolve. So, my family just slightly exceeds the national average on the prevalence of disability in our nation, which is about twenty percent, based on a statistic from the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the American Community Survey, almost 1.1 million Veterans ages eighteen and over reported having a service-connected disability rating of seventy percent or more. There is a measurable population of non-Veterans and Veterans alike with disabilities who need significant support systems.
Another statistic relevant to disability is the increased survival rate for soldiers who are wounded in battle. Due to improved body armor and improved emergency medical treatment techniques, warriors are coming home in ever-increasing frequency and numbers, some with serious disabilities to contend with. As is the case with dramatically increasing numbers in autism, society has a responsibility to support those in our community with special needs. With the Specially Adapted Housing Grant, returning soldiers with special needs can be financially accommodated using their VA benefits. Additionally, SoCalVAHomes.org can combine the Specially Adapted Housing Grant with our Dreamweaver Home Purchase Process. This combination of resources can produce a very powerful impact when purchasing and renovating a home. The result can be a highly customized residence with features that maximize accommodations for disabilities and enhance the quality of life and enjoyment of the home for the Veteran.
Specially Adapted Housing Grant
This grant is primarily used when building, remodeling or purchasing a home to make it wheel-chair accessible and to modify the home and reconstruct it any way to meet adaptive needs. And it's a big grant. It has increased continually over the years, and in 2015 is currently funding $70,465. In order to qualify for the grant, the Veteran must have a disability that falls into one of these categories: a complete loss of the use of extremities, blindness, or severe burns. Over the years, the specifics of the qualifying disabilities for these grants have slightly changed. If you (for whatever reason) don't qualify now, you’ll certainly want to check back on the qualifications for this program in the future.
Special Housing Adaptation Grant
Although it has a similar name, a lesser grant is the Special Housing Adaptation Grant. This particular grant is intended to finance modifications to the home, so the Veteran can be more mobile in the household. With it, the homeowner can widen doorways and hallways, install wheel-chair access, etc. The grant is currently an amount of $14,093. Disability categories that are eligible for this grant include blindness in both eyes with a visual acuity of 2200 or less, loss of the use of both hands, or a severe burn injury.
Residential Assistance Grant
This grant is for those who need to modify a home when they intend to be living in their family member's home The VA is currently offering $30,934 as the maximum amount available to adapt a family member's home for the purpose of increasing the Veteran’s mobility within that home. If that were to be combined with the Specialty Housing Adaptation Grant, the total grant increases to $53,020. That's a really significant benefit considering these funds are intended for transitional purposes. Certainly the goal would be to increase self-sufficiency and move from transitional housing with a family member to a personal residence.
Home Improvement and Structural Alterations Grant
The opportunity exists to combine some of these above grants with the Home Improvement and Structural Alterations Grant that funds as much as $6,800. This grant is for the continuation of treatment for the disability. Combined with the SAH grant, a Veteran can receive another $6,800. Combined with the SHA grant, a Veteran can receive another $2,000.
A Powerful Combination of Resources and Benefits
At So Cal VA Homes, we get excited about the opportunity to assist a Veteran who qualifies for a VA housing grant. In combination with our Dream Weaver Home Purchase Process, these VA grants can significantly enhance the finish of the residence for the Veteran. We're the only company that facilitates housing for Veterans (and active military) by providing a fully custom, renovated home using VA financing. We'll search the marketplace and find a home that you desire, buy that home for cash and renovate it in the manner that you want. Imagine adding $70,465 in grant funds to the final finished home. The results could be extraordinary.
New custom renovations such as a state-of-the-art kitchen, modified bathrooms, hardwood flooring, etc. can be combined with the all necessary additional modifications that are necessary to support your lifestyle. Combining the financial resources of our Dreamweaver Home Purchase Process™ with the Specially Adapted Housing Grant gives us, and you, a tremendous amount of “horsepower” to do some amazing things for you.
Financially speaking, you should be able to qualify for significant, traditional VA loan financing, and then combine the grant(s) on top of the VA loan benefit. This will create a large budget for the purchase and modification of the home. With our Dreamweaver Home Purchase Process™, the VA loan will typically finance the purchase and all the modifications and improvements. The VA appraisal must demonstrate the value of all the improvements in the total new value of the home. However, in this case, because the granted funds do not have to be repaid, we have the maximum flexibility and ability to apply these funds toward modifications WITHOUT any consideration as to their effect on the actual value or resale value of the home from the VA appraiser’s standpoint. We can do things to the home that would never be possible without combining these two programs. That is what is meant by a large budget! This is a VERY POWERFUL marriage of resources and benefits.
Let’s discuss the economics of the qualifying for the VA loan. In general, the Veterans who qualify for these grants are getting tax-free disability payments. It is possible to receive service-connected disability or VA disability compensation and Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) at the same time. When we underwrite the final VA loan financing, we perform what we call a “grossing-up” of the tax-free income payments. In this scenario, a VA loan underwriter effectively equates your income to the same income as a working individual, as if taxes were getting deducted from a paycheck. As an example, if you make $3,000 a month in disability income, it can be equated to making $3,750 a month in an underwriting scenario. And if you combine that figure with spousal income or other retirement income, you may qualify for a significant sum of VA loan financing. Your credit profile and other debts will also be considered. Your disability payments are permanent, so you should be able to properly budget your income and expenses to afford truly special results when building out a new custom home.
For guidance in applying for these grants, simply give our office a call. Ultimately, you’ll need to discuss your qualifications, complete VA Form 26-4555 and submit the application to the VA Regional Benefit Office nearest you. The VA Regional Benefit Office will not help you with the VA loan financing because the VA doesn’t do loans - they only provide the “VA Guaranty” to institutional lenders who make the VA loans. SoCalVAHomes provides VA financing. The VA Regional Benefit Office will only process and approve the grant. During the process of grant approval, we can initiate plans to move forward on your homeownership goals. You can apply for the grant online as well. If you're not familiar with ebenefits.va.gov, getting familiar with that site can be very helpful. You can obtain your Certificate of Eligibility there, or call us at (949) 268-7742 and we can help you with these details.