Friday, January 4, 2008

VA updates housing grants for disabled Message-----From: VA Media RelationsSent: Friday, January 04, 2008 9:06 AMTo: VSubject: VA Improves Housing Benefits for Severely DisabledNew VA Rules for Specially Adapted Housing Grants Program Aids MostSeriously Injured WASHINGTON (January 4, 2008) - A change in the law thatallows certain seriously injured veterans and servicemembers to receivemultiple grants for constructing or modifying homes has resulted in many newgrants, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today. Before the change, eligible veterans and servicemembers could receivespecial adaptive housing grants of $10,000 or $50,000 from VA only once.Now they may use the benefit up to three times, so long as the total grantsstay within specified limits outlined in the law."Veterans seriously disabled during their military service have earned thisbenefit," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake."This change ensures that every eligible veteran and servicemember has thechance to use the maximum amount afforded to them by our grateful nation."In order to ensure all previous recipients are aware of this opportunity, VAhas mailed more than 16,000 letters to eligible veterans, reaching out tothose who used only a portion of their grant or who decided not to use thegrant even after initially qualifying. The response over the past year has been dramatic, with more than 4,600applications received thus far. Of these, approximately 3,900 veterans havebeen determined eligible under the new law, and more than 200grants already awarded. VA has averaged about 1,000 adaptive housing grant applications per yearduring the past 10 years. Since the program began in 1948, it has providedmore than $650 million in grants to about 34,000 seriously disabledveterans. To ensure veterans' and servicemembers' needs are met and grant money isspent properly, VA works closely throughout the entire process withcontractors and architects to design, construct and modify homes that meetthe individuals' housing accessibility needs.Eligible for the benefit are those with specific service-connecteddisabilities entitling them to VA compensation for a "permanent and totaldisability." They may receive a grant to construct an adapted home or tomodify an existing one to meet their special needs. VA has three types of adapted housing grants available. The SpeciallyAdapted Housing grant (SAH), currently limited to $50,000, is generally usedto create a wheelchair-accessible home for those who may require suchassistance for activities of daily living. VA's Home Loan Guaranty program and the Native American Direct Loan programmay also be used with the SAH benefit to purchase an adaptive home. The Special Housing Adaptations (SHA) grant, currently limited to $10,000,is generally used to assist veterans with mobility throughout their homesdue to blindness in both eyes, or the anatomical loss or loss of use of bothhands or extremities below the elbow.A third type established by the new law, the Temporary Residence Adaptation(TRA) grant, is available to eligible veterans and seriously injured activeduty servicemembers who are temporarily living or intend to temporarily livein a home owned by a family member. While the SAH and SHA grants require ownership and title to a house, increating TRA Congress recognized the need to allow veterans and active dutymembers who may not yet own homes to have access to the adaptive housinggrant program.Under TRA, veterans and servicemembers eligible under the SAH program wouldbe permitted to use up to $14,000, and those eligible under the SHA programwould be allowed to use up to $2,000 of the maximum grant amounts. Eachgrant would count as one of the three grants allowed under the new program. "The goal of all three grant programs is to provide a barrier-free livingenvironment that offers the country's most severely injured veterans orservicemembers a level of independent living," added Peake.Other VA adaptive housing benefits are currently available throughVocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service's "Independent Living"program, the Insurance Service's Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance program,and the Veterans Health Administration's Home Improvement and StructuralAlterations grant. For more information about grants and other adaptive housing programs,contact a local VA regional office at 1-800-827-1000 or local veteranservice organization. Additional program information and grant applications(VAF-26-4555) can be found at

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