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Veteran Housing Help: Grants, Loans And Assistance Programs

February 14, 2024 7-minute read

Author: Kevin Graham

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Veterans who served and protected our freedom deserve all the thanks and resources we can provide. Veteran housing is such an important topic because every veteran should be able to live in safe and secure housing that meets their needs.

Unhoused veterans can turn to a variety of resources for housing support. Disabled veterans can access housing grants to fund accessibility improvements in their homes. And all qualified veterans can benefit from the significant advantages of a VA loan to buy a home.

We’ll explore some of the resources and programs available to help veterans find, keep and improve their housing.

Veteran Housing Assistance For The Unhoused

Many veterans become unhoused due to factors beyond their control. For veterans returning from war, the readjustment to civilian life can be challenging. According to a 2017 survey from the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans share many societal problems with the general population that put them at high risk of becoming unhoused, including substance abuse, untreated mental illness and poverty. Post-traumatic stress disorder can also complicate and obstruct a veteran’s transition to civilian life.

There are several resources available to help veterans at risk of becoming unsheltered.

National Call Center For Homeless Veterans Hotline

Call the VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET if you’re unhoused or at risk of losing housing. This 24/7 resource puts veterans in contact with trained VA counselors who can speak to them about available homelessness programs, health care and other services.

HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)

HUD-VASH combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program for rental assistance (more on this program later) with support services for unhoused veterans provided by local VA medical centers, community-based outreach clinics and other VA-designated entities. The program helps unhoused veterans find housing and provides the medical treatment, case management and other support services they need to help them keep their housing.

HUD-VASH is for veterans most in need of community support, including veterans with severe physical or mental health problems or substance use disorders. Veterans who require the assistance of a service animal may request to keep their assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation.

Supportive Services For Veteran Families (SSVF)

The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program helps very low-income veterans and their families by identifying new, suitable housing or rapidly rehousing families on the brink of homelessness. The program also offers support services to improve a family's stability, such as health care, daily living support and transportation services.

Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH)

With locations in Washington, D.C., and Gulfport, Mississippi, the Armed Forces Retirement Home is a community for senior veterans and their spouses. Eligibility criteria for this retirement home include 20 years or more of service as an enlisted member, warrant officer or limited duty officer.

ARFH offers assisted living, memory support and long-term care. Residents can take advantage of on-site medical, dental and vision care and physical and occupational therapy. Some amenities include in-room cable, internet, a full-service library, a movie theater, a bowling alley and hobby shops.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can request an application form.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

The Housing Choice Voucher program helps people with low incomes, those with disabilities and older adults. Your income must be at or below 50% of the area median income where you want to live to qualify. It’s also worth noting that, by law, 75% of housing vouchers must go to households that make no more than 30% of an area’s median income.

If you qualify for a voucher, you can live wherever you want as long as the landlord accepts the rental subsidy. The local public housing agency (PHA) issues the voucher amount directly to the landlord, and the tenant covers any difference. In some cases, you may be able to use your subsidy to buy a home. To do that, you’ll need to apply through your local PHA.

Depending on where you live and the legal requirements landlords must follow, you may be able to request an accommodation to live with your service dog or emotional support animal.

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Housing Grants For Veterans With Disabilities

If you want to buy or refinance your home, there are home loans for people with disabilities. Veterans who receive disability benefits should also look into VA assistance.

If you want to remodel your home to improve accessibility, you can also look into grants. We’ll go over three grants here. The VA uses one application form for each grant.

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grants For Veterans With Disabilities

The grant provides money to veterans with service-connected disabilities to help them fund home renovations that accommodate their needs.

The VA offers grants of up to $109,986 in the 2023 fiscal year to help purchase or construct an accessible home or retrofit it to be more accessible to your needs. To qualify for a grant, you must currently own a home or will own it in the future, and you must have a qualifying service-connected disability, including:

  • The loss, or loss of use, of more than one limb
  • The loss, or loss of use, of a lower leg, along with the lasting effects of natural disease or injury
  • Blindness in both eyes (defined as having 20/200 eyesight or less)
  • Certain severe burns
  • The loss, or loss of use, of one foot or leg after September 11, 2001, that requires the use of braces, crutches, canes or a wheelchair for independent mobility

Only 120 veterans per fiscal year can qualify for a SAH grant.

Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant

You can use the Special Housing Adaptation grant for smaller home accessibility renovations or to buy or build an adapted home. You can receive up to $22,036 with an SHA grant. To qualify, you must own a home or will own it in the future, and you must have a qualifying service-connected disability, including:

  • Loss, or loss of function, of both hands
  • Certain severe burns
  • Qualifying respiratory or breathing injuries

You don’t have to use all the funding the year you receive a SAH or SHA grant. You can use the grant funds up to six times throughout your life.

Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant

The Temporary Residence Adaptation grant allows qualified veterans who are living temporarily in a family member’s home to make changes that accommodate their service-connected disability.

To qualify for a TRA grant, you must first qualify for a SAH or SHA grant. If you qualify for a SAH grant, you can receive up to $44,299. If you qualify for an SHA grant, funding can go up to $7,910.

Buying A Home With A VA Loan

For the vast majority of veterans, a VA loan makes the most sense when they’re ready to buy a home. VA loans have valuable money-saving benefits, including zero money down, lower closing costs, competitive interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Let’s explore the financial and credit requirements for VA loans and the steps you must take to buy a home with a VA loan.

VA Funding Fee Exemption For Disabled Veterans

The VA funding fee helps fund the VA home loan program, and most borrowers must pay this fee. The amount you pay depends on the size of your down payment and whether it’s your first use or subsequent use of your VA loan.

If you make a down payment of less than 5%, the fee is either 2.15% of the loan amount for a first-time home buyer or 3.3% if you used your VA loan benefit before.

But there are some funding fee payment exemptions. Borrowers who receive VA disability payments are exempt. If you received retroactive payments from a disability claim that covers the period before your closing date, you can apply for a funding fee refund through your local VA loan center.

The VA also exempts eligible surviving spouses and service members who return to active duty after receiving a Purple Heart from paying the VA funding fee.

VA Loan Requirements And Buying Steps

The VA doesn’t set a minimum credit score requirement, but most VA loan lenders do. At Rocket Mortgage®, you can qualify for a VA home loan with a minimum credit score of 580.

Here are the basic steps to purchasing a home with a VA loan:

Provide A Certificate Of Eligibility

First, you must provide the lender with your VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE proves that you’re eligible for the VA home loan benefit. To qualify for a COE, you must meet the VA’s minimum service requirements or prove you’re the spouse of an eligible veteran. The service requirements are waived for veterans who were discharged because of a service-connected disability.

Get A Mortgage Preapproval

A preapproval estimates the top end of your budget so you can start looking at houses. Preapproval involves submitting documents like W-2s, 1099s, tax returns and any proof of disability benefits. Lenders also verify any assets you list, such as bank statements and investment accounts. And finally, there’s a credit check that includes verifying your credit score and reviewing your debts.

Get An Appraisal

An appraisal places a value on a home. It’s necessary because lenders won’t lend you more money than a home is worth. The appraisal has basic health and safety guidelines a property must pass. The VA does have some special requirements, including pest inspections in certain states.

Schedule A Home Inspection

While it isn’t required, it’s never a bad idea to get a home inspection. A home inspector will go through the home with you to review the home’s structure and systems for existing problems and alert you to any potential future problems. If there are issues that need fixing, negotiate with the seller on the repairs. If you have an inspection contingency, and the seller isn’t willing to remedy a significant issue, you can walk away from the deal.

Pay The VA Funding Fee

Unless you qualify for an exemption, you’ll pay the VA funding fee. The fee is a one-time payment calculated as a percentage of your total loan amount. You can either pay the fee at closing or roll it into your mortgage.

Close The Deal

On closing day, you’ll complete a final property inspection, pay any closing costs, sign the title paperwork and finally get the keys to your new home.

The Bottom Line

Your service to your country is much appreciated. As a veteran, you deserve to have a safe, accessible and affordable place to call home. You should take advantage of the assistance programs available to help you find and maintain housing. Look into available grants if you are a veteran with disabilities and want to buy or renovate a home to adapt to your needs.

The VA loan offers significant advantages for qualified home buyers, including the chance to buy a home with no down payment. If you’re ready to purchase a home, you can apply for a mortgage online.

Kevin

Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham is a Senior Blog Writer for Rocket Companies. He specializes in economics, mortgage qualification and personal finance topics. As someone with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia that requires the use of a wheelchair, he also takes on articles around modifying your home for physical challenges and smart home tech. Kevin has a BA in Journalism from Oakland University. Prior to joining Rocket Mortgage, he freelanced for various newspapers in the Metro Detroit area.