||The Real Estate Adviser
Disabled get help to live
I am on Social Security disability. Is
there a program that would help me buy a home? My income isn't very
much; I am 43 years old, and married with one child.
-- Searching for the American dream
There are programs, but obviously not enough of them.
Federal housing data indicates the overall home
ownership rate in the U.S. is more than 65 percent, but it's less
than 5 percent for people with disabilities who live on Social Security
and less than 2 percent for those who are disabled and head of household,
say advocates for the disabled.
But don't lose hope. If you're exhaustive in
your search, you might find the assistance you need by exploring
as many options as you can to see what fits your situation.
Let's begin on the national level.
The "Home Choice" program of Fannie
Mae, which provides financial products and services for low, moderate
and middle-income families, offers programs for the disabled featuring
low down-payment requirements (usually $500), and payment of most
closing costs. Go to fanniemae.com
for more information, and then contact a local lender.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's
Section 8 Homeownership Program, enacted in 2000, allows people
with disabilities to apply their monthly rent vouchers toward the
monthly mortgage payments for a home. The catch is that local public
housing authorities must choose to participate in the program. And
"Unfortunately, these (federal) programs
are very limited," says Becca Vaughn, co-chair of the National
Council of Independent Living's housing committee.
To see if your state participates, and to see
what other programs are available, contact your local Center for
Independent Living. A state-by-state directory of CIL's can be found
A few states have their own custom programs,
such as Maryland, which lends money directly to people with certifiable
disabilities, up to a maximum first-mortgage value of $100,000 ($120,000
in the greater Washington D.C. area), at 3 percent interest, up
to a 40-year term. The total income of all household members must
not exceed $40,015 in this program. Regrettably, those programs
Many state first-time homebuyer programs offer
relatively liberal lending terms, but they are usually geared toward
buyers who earn 60 to 80 percent of the median income, says Vaughn.
Most people with disabilities fall below the 30 percent level and
Through the Community Reinvestment Act, some
municipalities can offer limited federal grant monies for low-income
home ownership, Vaughn says. It's worth a call to city hall.
One of the best places to start for advice on
such home-loan programs is your local lender, Vaughn advises. "They
can sit down with you and run through your options and finances
and it won't cost you anything."
You can find other helpful Web information at
which has a home-buying guide for people with disabilities, and
at the national homepage for the Independent
Living Research Utilization program.
Good luck to you and your family.
-- Posted: Feb. 7, 2004