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Need help fixing up your home to age in place?

Here’s where to look

Do you need modifications to your home to help you age in place? Maybe a ramp or a first floor bathroom would help you stay in your home as your needs change. Or perhaps you are in need of a repair? After all the rain we had in August, maybe you have a leaky roof. It could be that your septic system has suddenly and unexpectedly failed.

For homeowners in need of some help affording these types of home repairs and modifications, the Benefits Counseling Program at LifePath can help you find resources to help repair, modify, and improve your home.

Our volunteer benefits counselors can provide hands-on assistance with the application process for any of the home repair and modification agencies mentioned below. Our goal is your goal: to successfully navigate the application process, thus enabling residents to live safely and independently in their own homes and communities.

What resources help with home repairs and modifications?

504 Home Repair Program

The USDA has a single family housing repair program, the 504 Home Repair program, which provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair or modernize their homes and provides grants to very-low-income elder homeowners to remove health and safety hazards. To qualify, the homeowner must occupy the house and have an income below 50 percent of the area median income. For grants, the homeowner must be age 62 or older and unable to repay a repair loan. The maximum loan is $20,000 and the maximum grant is $7,500. The total lifetime assistance available through the Section 504 program is $27,500, which could consist of a combination loan and grant. To get started in our area, homeowners are asked to call the USDA office in Hadley at (413) 585-1000 ext.4.

Home Modification Loan Program

The Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP) is state-funded and loans up to $30,000 to finance modifications to the primary residence of a frail elder or any household member with disabilities. The disabilities need not be physical. Income limits are based on the Boston area, which means that most Western Massachusetts homeowners borrow at 0% interest and are not obligated to repay the loan until the property is sold or the title is transferred. Borrowers must submit a statement from a professional who will describe the kinds of limitations the person is subject to. Examples of projects funded through HMLP include ramps and lifts, hardwired alarm systems, fencing, sensory spaces, and accessible bathrooms and kitchens. The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is the “provider agency” for HMLP in Franklin County. More information and an application can be obtained by calling Shirley Stephens at (413) 781-6045. If you live in a North Quabbin town, contact Lovette Chislom at (978) 630-6725.

Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority

Currently, Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority (HRA) is administering housing rehab programs on behalf of 25 towns in Franklin County. The program provides homeowners with interest-free loans in the form of a 0% Deferred Payment Loan (DPL) up to $35,000. Mortgages will be enforced through a recorded mortgage lien on the property and are due and payable at sale or transfer of the property. Work that may be addressed through this program includes: electrical, plumbing, structural repairs, accessibility modifications, septic repair or replacement, heating repair or replacement, roofing, foundation, doors, wells, windows, and more. Income level limits apply. To learn more, contact Jen Morrow at (413) 863-9781 ext. 137. Residents of Greenfield can access similar services through the Greenfield Planning Department by calling (413) 772-1548.

Contact the Benefits Counseling Program at LifePath for assistance. In addition to the above, volunteer benefits counselors help elders with applications for fuel assistance and food stamps (SNAP) and can provide information on utility discounts, tax rebates, and energy efficiency upgrades.