The Vermont Center for Independent Living’s (VCIL) Home Access Program (HAP) is a statewide program for physically disabled low-income residents of Vermont. HAP is intended to help individuals with disabilities be able to live independently in their own homes. The program’s focus is on making modifications to an individual’s bathroom and home entrance, making these areas more accessible. While the Home Access Program is not specifically designed for the elderly, a diagnosis of Osteoarthritis, Stroke, or Parkinson’s disease is considered a disability for eligibility purposes, and is commonly seen in elderly individuals.
VCIL is also behind the Sue Williams Freedom Fund (SWFF) program, which is similar to HAP. Through the SWFF, funding for items and services are provided for eligible disabled applicants. These may include items such as mobility aids, like canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, cooking aids, as well as modifications to a vehicle, such as grab bars, ramps, and special steering stations.
HAP and SWFF are funded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Department of Disabilities Aging and Independent Living.
In order to be eligible for the Home Access Program and / or the Sue Williams Freedom Fund, an individual must be a physically disabled resident of Vermont. HAP and SWFF income eligibility guidelines require that the individual’s income be no greater than 80% of the median average in the geographic location in which the individual resides.
As of September 2020, for an individual household, the income limit is $41,250 for the counties of Bennington, Caledonia, Essex, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, and Windham. The following counties have the following income limits: Windsor ($41,750), Windsor ($42,650), Addison ($43,650), and Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle ($51,350). For a two-person household, the income limit is slightly higher. For instance, the income limit for the counties of Bennington, Caledonia, Essex, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans,
and Rutland, and Windham is $47,150, and the income limit for the counties of Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle is $58,650.
Neither the age of the applicant, nor their home ownership status, is considered as eligibility factors for these programs.
The benefits and services of the Home Access Program are determined by individual needs. This might mean an addition of an entry ramp to the front of a home, increasing the width of steps, an addition of a pedestal sink (to allow wheelchair access), adding a built in shower seat, a shower attachment that is handheld, a higher toilet seat, and/or grab bars. The maximum allowable allowance per eligible individual is $15,000.
For the SWFF program, the maximum allowable allowance per eligible individual is $1,500.
For more information about the VCIL Home Access Program or the Sue Williams Freedom Fund, contact the Vermont Center for Independent Living at 1-800-639-1522 or 802-229-0501. More information about the HAP program can also be found here, while limited information about the SWFF program can be found here.
Due to high demand, expect a long wait list for both the Home Access Program and Sue Williams Freedom Fund. As of 2019, the approximate wait time for assistance via HAP is two years, while the approximate wait time for SWFF is one year. However, those who are at risk of being placed in a nursing home facility are given priority. In addition, for the SWFF wait list, if an applicant is applying for an item that is under $1,500 and can come up with 20% of the cost of the item, they are moved up the wait list.