Page Reviewed / Updated - Mar. 2019
The Maine State Housing Authority offers the MaineHousing's Home Accessibility and Repair Program and a sub-program relevant to seniors called the Elderly Hardship Grant. The objective of these programs is to help low income homeowners maintain their homes in good repair and minimize safety risks associated with their homes. This program is relevant to seniors wishing to age in place and to families caring for loved ones at home. This is because the grants can be used to make home modifications, not just for structural improvements but also to improve disability access.
Home modifications include projects such as the addition of a wheelchair ramp to the home's exterior or widening of doorways and access points to allow wheelchair access in the home's interior and bathroom modifications such as the addition of a walk in tub (with transfer bench), hand rails, modified toilet etc. Stair-lifts, platform lifts and home elevators are possibilities for two-story homes or second story apartments in which staircases cannot be avoided.
To be eligible for this program, there are several different requirements. First and foremost, the applicant must be a legal Maine resident and homeowner. They must have lived in the home for a minimum of one year to which the improvements will be made. Mobile homes are eligible, but they must have been constructed after 1976.
Applicants must be at least 62 years of age. Financial eligibility is based on the candidate's household income and liquid assets. (not their financial assets). These requirements can change annually and the income limit is based on household size and the area of Maine in which the applicant resides. Typically, individuals qualify should their income be equal or less than 80% of the median income for their area. In many areas of Maine, single applicants with incomes of less than $33,750 / year or $2,812.50 / month will qualify. In the urban areas, that limit is higher, approaching $35,750 or even $50,350 ($2,979 - $4,196 per month) in and around Portland, Bangor, and the more expensive areas of southern Maine. As far as liquid assets (cash and assets, such as money market funds and bank accounts, that are easily convertible to cash), an applicant who is at least 60 years old is allowed up to $50,000. Those under the age of 60 are limited to $5,000 in liquid assets.
Detailed town-by-town income limits are available here. These figures were last updated April 1, 2018, and it is expected they will be updated again as of April 2019.
This program does not consider the functional ability or disabilities of the applicants as a qualifying factor. However, prioritization may be given to individuals who are expected to remain living in their homes for an extended period of time (as opposed to those who may be moving into an assisted living or nursing home community).
The amount of assistance can vary based on need, location within the state, and with available funding. Most areas set a maximum limit on the grant size at $30,000 or home repair and $15,000 for accessibility projects. The funds can be applied towards a wide range of home safety improvements, such as plumbing, heating, roof, well, and electrical repairs, but most relevant are modifications to help elderly and disabled individuals improve access to, and in and around their homes.
To apply for the Home Repair Program or the Elderly Hardship Grant, one should contact their regional, county-specific, Community Action Program agency. A list of which can be found here. One can find additional program information here or can call 207-626-4602.