For many, owning a home is a major part of the American dream. Having a disability, however, can make this dream harder to achieve. Many disabled Americans who want to buy a home find they don’t qualify for traditional mortgages due to the renovations they might need to make, which can be very pricey.
Owning A Home Is Important & Offers Flexibility
Owning a home becomes increasingly important for those with special needs considering many rental homes lack the accessibility these tenants require.
For example, doorways may not be wide enough for a wheelchair or crutches, kitchen appliances may be too difficult to use, and getting into the house can be dangerous if there are narrow stairs or other obstacles.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, which became law in 1990, those with disabilities cannot be discriminated against. The law defines this term as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity”. These individuals face massive challenges every day but owning a home can be an entirely new one that’s worth taking on.
The Pros of Owning a Home
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Owning a home has a lot of benefits and perks, but for the disabled and their families, there are a few additional benefits. When you own a home, you can make the changes and additions that best meet your needs and situation. The best part is you don’t need to wait for a landlord or public housing authority to meet your needs—you can get it done on your own time.
Building a strong relationship with your neighbors and the greater community is also important. By owning your home and taking part in the community, you can help not only raise awareness about your situation, but also that of other homeowners with special needs.
All of this translates to a stronger sense of independence and self-worth, as you take on home ownership and membership within your neighborhood and community. In addition, you can gain wealth, increase your access to credit, and improve your overall financial health by building equity in your home.
The Cons of home ownership
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Not everything about owning a home is fun, and that’s across all types of homeowners. When things break, need upgrading, or wear out, you’ll be responsible for fixing them. This can be difficult for a homeowner that’s on a limited income and doesn’t have homeowners insurance.
The modifications made to your home to help accommodate your disability can potentially decrease the value of your home. Changing the height of appliances, bathroom fixtures, and other things in your home to accommodate a wheelchair, for instance, can make the home seem less desirable to someone who doesn’t use a chair. That means if you ever sell your home, you could end up losing money.
Depending on your mobility level, you may also need to consider where you purchase your home. Being close to things like grocery stores, banks, or even medical facilities might end up informing your choices about where you’d like to—or need to—live.
Financial Assistance Programs, Resources, and Organizations for home buyers
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If you’re a person with disabilities or on disability who wants to buy a home, there are many types of assistance available to help you achieve that goal.
Supplemental Security Income
SSI, as it’s known, is a program that pays benefits to adults and children who have limited income. You’ll need to meet some requirements, such as being between 18-65, never been married, are not blind, and live within the United States or Northern Mariana Islands.
Home Ownership Voucher Program
This is a federal program that helps moderate- to -low-income families realize their dream of purchasing a home. It comes under Section 8, and in order to qualify, you must be a first-time homebuyer, meet the income requirements, and have no ownership interest in another home.
National Opportunities for Affordable Housing Foundation
This organization, known as NOAH, is a non-profit that seeks to pursue various homebuying opportunities for disabled families that wish to purchase a home. It operates in 13 states and works with housing communities to offer underprivileged housing opportunities in apartment complexes.
Know Your Rights
Several laws offer protection of certain rights for families who have a member with a condition when it comes to housing.
Fair Housing Act
This law protects you from sellers or landlords that may try to make you conform to different rules or deny your application. It also protects you from being barred from living in certain areas due to zoning or land use policies.
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
This law, known as RESPA, ensures that you get complete information about closing costs, as well as protects you from exorbitant costs caused by shady practices.
Zoning and Land Use
Certain communities make requirements about how land is used, such as requiring that all homes in a given community have a certain size yard in the front. That could make it difficult for you to live there if you need to use that space for a certain accommodation.
owning a home with disability can become a reality
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Becoming a home owner is a possibly. As long as you understand its pros and cons and do some research to find the best programs and lenders, you could see yourself owning a home in no time.
Here's are a great article we wrote Helpful Moving Tips for the Disabled and full access to all helpful articles for anyone with a disability: http://blog.steelesandiegohomes.com/topic/disability
This article was submitted by Andy Kearns who is a Content Analyst for LendEDU and works to produce personal finance content to help educate consumers across the globe. When he’s not writing, you can find Andy cheering on the Lakers or somewhere on a beach.