Q. "Our 20-something son has a physical disability from an accident in his teens but he’s fighting it well and has a steady job. Now he’s talking about buying a home and we want to help him as much as possible. Are there any benefits for homebuyers with a disability?" – B. Williams, Fort Myers, Fla.
A. The short answer is yes, but you really have to know where to look.
Your first stop is at a good real estate broker, who will know what kind of deals that mortgage lenders offer disabled homebuyers. Banks and mortgage lenders are especially image-conscious, so they may be able to offer a discounted interest rate or more flexibility on credit terms for your son.
Your next stop is with the U.S. government, which offers myriad programs to help disabled individuals find good housing opportunities. Start at Disability.gov, the housing assistance website.
The site has some helpful information on how to get financial help for disabled homebuyers, including tax credits, vouchers, and help with mortgage loans.
Another government agency worth checking out is the Social Security Administration (SSA). If your son suffered his disability before his 22nd birthday – and judging from your letter that seems to be the case – your son may be eligible for financial assistance that he can use to pay for a home. The agency has money put aside for disabled Americans through the SSA’s Supplemental Security Income program.
Another good idea is to research the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD has a longstanding program to help disabled Americans via housing vouchers to either rent or buy a home. You’ll need to file financial documents to make sure your son qualifies for help, but it could well be worth the effort. The program focuses primarily on first-time homebuyers like your son, who could use some help making their monthly mortgage payments.
Chances are you’ll be working with one of HUD’s Public Housing Agencies, and not all of them help with direct home ownership (their primarily focused on rentals). But many do, and it’s worth contacting HUD to find out.
Non-profit groups can help, too. One of the best in helping disabled individuals find a home is Habitat For Humanity, where you can apply for a Habitat home for your son. You will need to meet the following criteria, according to Habitat’s website:
• Be U.S. citizens or legal residents.
• Prove a steady income.
• Have good credit.
• Earn a monthly income that falls within minimum and maximum limits, depending on household size.
• Sustain a savings account over a specified period of time.
In addition, each Habitat partner family will be required to:
• Invest sweat-equity hours in building his/her home and others.
• Make an affordable down payment.
• Make timely mortgage payments.
• Attend homeowner education classes.
Thankfully, there is no shortage of help for your son – even in this lousy economy. Just start digging in and see what opportunities make sense for you both.
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