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Five nonprofits have been awarded $5 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fund efforts by the organizations to modify or repair the homes of low-income veterans with disabilities.

Five nonprofits have been awarded $5 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fund efforts by the organizations to modify or repair the homes of low-income veterans with disabilities. (SHVETS Productions via Canva.com)

WASHINGTON — Five nonprofits have been awarded $5 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fund efforts by the organizations to modify or repair the homes of low-income veterans with disabilities.

Habitat for Humanity International Inc., Rebuilding Together Inc., Coalition for Home Repair, Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, and Family and Community Services Inc. will each receive $1 million in support of the Veterans Housing Rehabilitation and Modification Pilot Program. The grants will assist 330 low-income veterans with disabilities. HUD gave out the money in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“All of our nation’s veterans deserve homes that help them live independent, comfortable, and fulfilling lives — especially those who live with low income or disabilities,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a prepared statement. “This funding will help make that goal a reality for more than 300 veterans by covering costs for much-needed home repairs, adaptive housing, and utilities.”

The pilot program was established in 2014 as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, a law passed annually by Congress to set guidelines on the defense budget and cover military-related programs led by other agencies.

More than 2.5 million veterans between the ages 21 to 64 reported having a service-connected disability, according to Cornell University's most recent disability statistics. A 2019 HUD and Census Bureau American Housing survey found nearly 16 million households have at least one person who uses a mobile device, such as a wheelchair or cane. However, more than 4% said their home did not meet their accessibility needs.

This program focuses on veterans with disabilities — a population that faces mobility challenges. The nonprofits can utilize the funds to modify a veteran’s home to address adaptive housing needs such as a wheelchair ramp, widening exterior and interior doors, or reconfiguring and re-equipping bathrooms.

However, the program is separate from the VA’s Specially Adapted Housing, which focuses on offering grants to veterans and service members with severe service-connected disabilities, and helps pay for building, remodeling, or purchasing an adapted home.

“There is no one more deserving of safe, accommodating housing than those who have served and defended this country,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a prepared statement. “These funds will help our low-income, disabled veterans achieve a dignified quality of life that allows them to live independently and comfortably.”

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Sara Samora is a Marine Corps veteran and the veterans reporter for Stars and Stripes. A native Texan, she previously worked at the Houston Business Journal and the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. She also serves on the boards of Military Veterans in Journalism and the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals.

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