This overview of VA adapted housing grants explains how certain disabled veterans can receive funds to adapt and remodel their homes to live independently.

Grants are available to help certain disabled veterans buy or adapt a home to meet your needs. The program aims to help vets with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities to live independently in a barrier-free living environment.

To be eligible, veterans first must apply for disability benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Once the VA certifies that your disability is service-connected and assigns a severity rating, you can apply for the grants. Keep in mind the grants are designed generally for vets that are 100% service-connected with certain specific disabilities.

There are two types of grants available, each operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

1. Specially Adapted Housing Grant – The larger grant, called the Specially Adapted Housing Grant, is generally available to vets with loss, or loss of use, of the lower extremities, although other disabilities may also be eligible. For this grant, the vet does need to be an owner, although you can jointly own the home with family or friends.

The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant can be used in one of the following ways:

  • Construct a specially adapted home on land to be purchased;
  • Build a home on land already owned, if suitable for specially adapted housing
  • Remodel an existing home, if can be made suitable for specially adapted housing
  • Apply the grant towards unpaid principal mortgage balance of an adapted home already purchased without the assistance of a VA grant.

The maximum dollar amount allowable for SAH grants in fiscal year 2017 is $77,307.

2. Special Housing Adaptation Grant – The smaller grant, called the Special Housing Adaptation Grant, is generally awarded to vets with disabilities involving visible impairment or loss, or loss of use, of both hands, although other disabilities may also be eligible. For this smaller grant, the vet doesn’t need to be an owner of the property, but a family member must be an owner.

The Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant can be used in one of the following ways:

  • Adapt an existing home the veteran or family member already owns, in which the veteran lives;
  • Adapt a home the veteran or family member intends to buy in which the veteran will live;
  • Help a veteran buy a home already adapted in which the veteran will live.

The maximum dollar amount allowable for SHA grants in fiscal year 2017 is $15,462.

Goal is to provide flexible solutions

The VA stresses that these funds are intended to provide flexible solutions to meet veterans adjusted daily needs. For the larger SAH grant, examples of improvements include a wide range of ways to remove barriers, which can include widening hallways, and creating indoor and outdoor ramps; bathroom modifications such as better placement of grab bars, shelving, towel rods, and outlets; kitchens can be adapted to include labor-saving devices; and overall safety issues can be fixed such as remodeling floors to prevent slipping. Renovations can also extend to carports, garages and walkways. For a full list of renovations, contact [email protected].

For the smaller SHA grants, typical adaptations for someone who is visually impaired can include lighting adjustments, and removal of tripping hazards. For veterans who have lost the use of their hands, light switches can be modified to provide access.

Grants to adapt temporary housing owned by family member

Grants for temporary housing adaptations are also available.  If a veteran is otherwise eligible for one of the SAH/SHA grants listed above, and is temporarily living in a home owned by a family member, s/he may apply for funds to adapt the home. In this case, SAH grants are available for up to $33,937, and SHA grants for up to $6,059.

How to apply

The application form is VA Form 26-4555, Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptation Grant. The VA provides several ways to submit the application. You can apply online at www.ebenefits.va.gov; you can download the form here VA Form 26-4555 and mail it to your Regional Loan Center; you can call the VA toll free at 1-800-827-1000 and have a form mailed to you; or you can visit a VA regional office. If you need help or have questions, veterans can email [email protected] or call (877) 827-3702.

Homeless Veterans Housing Assistance Vouchers

The federal agencies for veterans’ affairs and housing have created a voucher program to help veterans facing homelessness. The program combines financial assistance with case management, helping veterans with challenges based on physical disability, mental illness or substance abuse. It is run by the U.S. Housing & Urban Development agency (HUD) and the VA. The program is called HUD-VASH.

The goal is to provide permanent housing and it applies to both single veterans and veterans with families. To qualify, veterans must be eligible for VA health care, and be homeless or facing eviction. Homeless is taken to mean someone who lacks a regular housing place that is meant for living, not counting shelters.

Eligibility and Requirements for the HUD-VASH program

To be eligible for the program, veterans need to be able to independently complete daily living activities, with assistance from case management and support services. Veterans who enroll in the program are required to engage with case managers and participate in the support services, and treatment recommendations that are designed to help sustain independent housing.

For qualifying veterans, HUD will provide Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for veterans to pay towards privately-owned housing. The VA provides ongoing case management services, through the Veterans’ Services Supportive Housing (VASH) program. VASH services can include assistance with health care, including outpatient health services and hospital services; community-based management; and assistance with housing searches. VA makes these services available at VA medical centers and community-based outreach clinics.

Veterans who are eligible for VA health care can apply for the HUD-VASH program at their local VA homeless program, or by contacting HUD-VASH directly.  Other community programs may also help make a referral for you. The VA determines eligibility for the program, which includes review of HUD regulations and income limits. Certain geographic restrictions may apply, as the vouchers are granted in lots based on overall needs of a region. The criteria is based on high numbers of homeless veterans and performance of the local public housing agency. Each year, HUD and the VA make an “award” of a certain number of vouchers to qualifying regions.

Once issued a HUD-VASH voucher, veterans have up to 120 days to find appropriate housing. The vouchers are portable and veterans can move within certain geographic areas, so long as services can be provided at the new location.

For veterans that don’t qualify for HUD-VASH assistance, there are other local, state, and federal government programs that can help. Most of these are “mainstream” programs not specifically targeted at veterans. The primary federal rental assistance programs for veterans are Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and public housing. For veterans who qualify in these programs, participants are offered a modest housing unit, and usually required to pay 30% of their income towards rent.

The vouchers can be terminated if veterans refuse to participate without good cause. However, if program administrators agree that the veteran no longer needs supportive services, veterans may be offered regular HUD voucher assistance, in order to free up the HUD-VASH voucher for another person.