VA Adapted Housing Grants: An Overview

housing grants disabled veterans

VA Adapted Housing Grants: An Introduction

Our military community is amazing! They are frequently away from home, missing anniversaries and birthdays, to answer the call of the nation. Many honorable men and women have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country. Many others have suffered and become disabled as a result of their service. Learning to live with these disabilities is challenging, but there are programs to help. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a number of housing grants that are funded to help veterans regain independence in their daily lives. These programs are:

  • The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant
  • The Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant
  • The Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant
  • The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant

The purpose of this grant is to allow a wounded and disabled veteran to live in an environment that grants more independence in daily living. It is available to those veterans with a service-connected disability for the following conditions:

  • Loss or loss of use of both legs requiring the use of wheelchairs, crutches, canes, or braces
  • Blindness in both eyes, plus the loss or loss of use of one leg
  • The loss or loss of use of one leg along with,
    • Residual effects of disease or injury (like cancer, or its treatment)
    • The loss or loss of use of one arm, affecting one’s balance, and requiring the use of wheelchairs, canes, etc.
  • The loss or loss of use of both arms at or above the elbow

Starting in 2020, the grant is limited to $90,364 and can be used for the construction of an adapted home or the modification of an existing home to meet the adaptive needs of the veteran. The installation or construction of a wheelchair ramp is one example of a home modification for which this grant is commonly used.

Special Home Adaptation (SHA) Grant

The SHA Grant is used to assist veterans with the adaptation of their existing home to meet the needs of their disability. This includes mobility adaptations. You are eligible for this grant if you are:

  • 100%, permanently disabled with a service-connected disability related to blindness (vision not better than 5/200 with corrective lenses)
  • Suffering from the loss or loss of use of both hands or arms below the elbow

This grant differs slightly from the SAH grant in that it is specifically blindness related and that it covers those diabled vets who have injuries below the elbow. It is provided to assist veterans whose disabilities are not as severe as others. It has an $18,074 cap.

Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant

If you are eligible for the SAH or SHA grants described above, but you do own or live in your own home, you can use a portion of the money from those grants to modify a family member’s home to fit the needs of your temporary shelter.

  • For the SAH grant, the TRA allowance is $39,669, meaning you can use almost $40k of your grant to modify the home where you’re living.
  • For the SHA grant, the TRA allowance is $7,083.

If you are living with a loved one who is taking care of you, these TRA grants can greatly assist with modifications that benefit the veteran and the caregiver.

Home Improvement & Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant

This HISA grant is available to veterans with service- and non-service connected disabilities. It is designed for home improvements that are needed to facilitate continued treatment or to improve access to the home and bathroom facilities. Examples are:

  • Roll-in showers
  • Lowering of sinks or counters
  • Improving entrances with ramping
  • Improving plumbing or electrical systems to accommodate medical equipment

The VA also makes it very clear that HISA will not pay for:

  • Walkways to exterior buildings (sheds, greenhouses, etc.)
  • Spas, hot tubs, or Jacuzzis
  • Exterior decking
  • New construction

A VA physician must indicate that you need improvements and/or structural alterations to your home that would appropriate effective treatment of your disability. For service-connected disabilities the lifetime cap of the grant is $6,800. It is $2,000 for veterans having non-service-connected disabilities.

Great! But how do I apply?

To take advantage of the SHA, SAH, or TRA housing grant benefits you deserve, you must login to the VA’s eBenefits website using a DS Logon basic or premium account. If you don’t have a DS Logon account, don’t worry. You can register for one on their site. To register for a housing grant online, you need to fill out an “Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptation Grant” (VA Form 26-4555). Make sure you have your Social Security number available as well as your VA file number or claim number.

If you wish to apply by mail, you can download the VA Form 26-4555 (PDF) and mail the application to the regional loan center nearest you. If you have issues downloading or printing out the form, call 1-800-827-1000, Monday thru Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST, and ask to have a claim form mailed to you.

If you need assistance filling out your application, or you have questions regarding any portion of the application or application process, call an SAH staff member at 877-827-3702, or email them at sahinfo.vbaco@va.gov

For the HISA grant, it’s a little different. You HISA application package will include:

  • A prescription written or approved by a VA physician that includes:
    • Name, address, and telephone number of beneficiary
    • Identity of the improvement or structural alteration
    • Diagnosis and medical justification for improvement
  • A completed and signed VA Form 10-0103, the Veterans Application for Assistance
  • FOR RENTERS: a signed and notarized statement from the owner authorizing the improvement or structural alteration
  • A written and itemized estimate of the costs relating to labor, material, permits, and inspections for the project
  • A color photograph of the unimproved area

Please note that the VA may deem an inspection of the site is warranted before processing your application. They’ve also published a HISA Roadmap to visualize the steps of the application process.

Follow this link to read the PDF version of the VA’s Handbook for Design, that guides you through the process of adaptive housing projects.

(Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash.com)

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About the author

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Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.