Life for an American with disabilities has come a long way since the Americans with Disabilites Act was passed in 1990. Prior to this legislative action, discrimination against folks with disabilities, whether intentional or unintentional, ran rampant across our country. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination for race, religion, sex and other characteristics illegal, it was not until 1989 that a movement was started in the U.S. Senate that would eventually lead to the ADA being signed into law in July of 1990. The ADA created provisions for disabled Americans to be granted civil rights in five areas: employment, public entities, public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications and other, miscellaneous areas. Later, in September of 2008, President Bush signed the ADA Ammendments Act, which gave broader accommodations to disabled people and removed some laws that Congress deemed were too restrictive. Among the many benefits that have been given to disabled Americams since the ADA was passed are special financial loans designed specifically for disabled people.
What Types of Financial Assistance Are Available?
Of course, it is not inferred or implied that people with disabilities automatically have a greater need for financial aid than those who are not disabled. There are some, however, that find the financial burden created by certain disabilities great enough that they would benefit from specialized financial aid programs. Other programs are designed not to relieve financial burden, but to provide financial accommodations to Americans with disabilities. The programs that exist today help disabled people who wish to buy a home, start a business, bring their current business into compliance with ADA standards and add accessibility options to their vehicles.
Though there are not enough of them, there are a few programs that exist to make homeownership a reality for people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Homeownership Voucher Program provides vouchers for both low-income and disabled individuals and families that subsidizes rent and mortgage payments. HUD offers housing counselors in every state, who can be found by visiting .
Another government funded assistance program for disabled homeowners is the Fannie Mae Community HomeChoice program. This program provides disabled homebuyers with several options that make purchasing a home easier. The HomeChoice program allows homebuyers with disabilities to buy a home with a lower down payment than is usually required. It also allows for a lower debt-to-income ratio, as well as giving provisions for more lenient credit evaluations and unconventional income allowances. There a few others organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as many state agencies, that provide assistance for disabled homebuyers. Get in touch with a HUD housing counselor or another financial advisor to learn more about these and other programs.
Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners
The U.S. Small Business Administration providers information for disabled individuals who desire to start their own business at www.sba.gov. This webpage not only gives information on starting a business, business taxes and other business related resources, but it also includes a listing of financial assistance options for disabled individuals who are starting a small business. Although federal and state governments do not provide grants for disabled people who wish to start businesses, there are a number of low-interest loan options available.
Among the most popular loan programs for entrepreneurs with disabilities are the Abilities Fund and the Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project. The Abilities Fund exists to aid in the economic prosperity of people with disabilities and to give a voice to the expression of their entrepreneurial spirit. It provides financing options as well as help with tax information regarding IRS programs and provisions that disabled business owners can take advantage of. For more information about the Abilities Fund, visitwww.abilitiesfund.org. The Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP) provides easy access to state and federally funded research and business loan programs. It also provides a portal through which disabled business owners can find information regarding loan specifications and have access to online meetings and webinars to aid them in their entrepreneurial pursuits. For more information about AFTAP, please visit www.resnaprojects.org.
Vehicle Access Modifications
Some banks offer what is known as an “access loan.” This type of loan is intended to give aid to individuals who need to make modifications to their vehicles in order to make them accessible for either themselves or an immediate family member who is disabled. This type of loan is typically designed to create flexible and affordable options for people with disabilities. It also has a relatively longer term in order to provide lower monthly payments. To qualify for an access loan, you must have a disability as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. An immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling, may also apply for an access loan in order to accommodate a disabled family member.
There are some organizations that also offer low interest loans to people seeking to bring their business location into compliance with the ADA. In general, the qualifications include being in business for over a year and being a profitable business.
The Bottom Line
If you are a person with some sort of disability, there may be one or more opportunities available for you to find low-cost or low-interest financial aid. Whether you are seeking to buy a home, start a business, or make life easier for yourself or a family member, there are organizations that want to come alongside you in your journey. Connect with a knowledgeable financial advisor or loan officer today to see what opportunities you may qualify for.