Help for special needs remodeling

Wheelchair Access

Special Needs Shower

I am on SSI and have Spina Bifida. I am looking for a place that offers low interest loans for people like me. I live with my parents and we need to have our bathroom redone. When the house was built, the bathroom was not made wide enough. I do have a wheel-in shower, but I am in a power chair and I can not turn or move freely without knocking the tiles off the walls. I have the same problems in my manual chair. This bathroom is the only one that I can get into in the house.

Make the Proper Contacts

I am on SSD and I'm also a woman with Spina Bifida. I use a manual wheelchair and have in the past needed modifications for my home. Quite often you can get grants through your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) or Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). Most times they will pay the entire cost of the modification and it isn't a loan so there's nothing to repay.

The key is contacting the proper agency for your individual situation. If you don't work you should contact your CIL. If you are going to college or seeking employment, you should contact DRS. Both can be found in your yellow pages listed under disability. If they aren't listed there, look in the government listings. Both are considered government-funded programs. And if all else fails, contact your local Social Services office and ask them to help you make the proper contacts.

Consider a Hand-Held Showerhead

Have you considered a hand-held showerhead? Some of them can be mounted on a height-adjustable, vertical bar, and then removed if needed. If this would work for you, you wouldn't need to move around in the shower stall. I have worked with another wheelchair bound patient and she used this application successfully.

Check with USDA Rural Development

Check with the USDA Rural Development agency in your area. They offer home repair loans to qualifying applicants.

Senior Citizen Organization May Help

In my community, we have a non-profit group called FREED who, among other things, has volunteers who would do such work for you at no cost.

I suggest you contact your local Senior Citizen organization and ask for a referral to such a group. I don't know if you will find one where you live, but this group would know what is available in your community.

If you are a member of a church, call the office and ask if someone would volunteer to do the work.

Here is a Tremendous Resource

I would urge anyone in the U.S. with issues similar to this to seek out an organization called Center for Independent Living. If you do a search on the Internet, you should be able to find one in your state.

The CILs are a tremendous resource to people with all types of disabilities, and may be able to provide information about grants or low/no interest loans for accessibility retrofitting of this type, in addition to accessing many other resources available in the community.

Keep Calling and Keep Asking

You should check with your state government. Many states offer funds for renovating existing living space to be more user-friendly for people with disabilities. They won't fund new construction, such as an addition, but remodeling your bathroom sounds like it fits the requirements. Also check Medicaid. They may have some money for accessibility remodeling, or someone there may know where you can go. Here's a word of warning. There are many programs out there, but no one seems to know about them. You need to keep calling and keep asking until you stumble across a person who has the answers.

Another Great Idea

Try calling your local high school or Vo-tech schoolteacher who teaches carpentry or home remodeling. In our area, they do projects like yours for the cost of materials. It also gives the students some great work experience.

Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together is a national organization (US) that performs home remodels and repairs for needy homeowners at no cost or obligation to the homeowner.

The work is performed by volunteers with materials and financial backing provided by a variety of businesses, civic groups, church groups, and individuals.

Contact the United Way

In our area, we have a volunteer organization that is called "Christmas in April" where families and/or senior citizens can apply and have home repairs and/or remodeling done. This has included installing ramps, making doorways wider, fixing roofs, etc. The volunteers get together on one weekend and do all the work assisted by professionals who also volunteer. You might want to contact your United Way and see if they are aware of a program like this in your area.

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