Adapting your home to meet changing needs can be financially and emotionally challenging — for owners and renters. To ease that transition, the City of Alexandria offers a number of home-improvement programs and partnerships to help residents enhance the livability, comfort and safety of their homes.
The largest of these programs — administered through the city’s housing office — is the home rehabilitation loan program. Funded through the federal community development block grant and HOME programs, this loan helps lower-income Alexandrians age in place, meet the changing needs of their family and maintain livable housing conditions. It is designed to assist households on limited incomes with few alternative resources for completing costly home repairs.
One couple that recently benefited from it was struggling to maintain their older home on a fixed income. That challenge was made far worse when an accidental fall left one of the residents with a fractured vertebra in his neck and permanent paralysis. A home rehabilitation loan let them make the needed accessibility improvements: a handicap-accessible bedroom and bathroom; an exterior electric wheelchair lift; and widened interior doorways to allow passage of a wheelchair.
Homeowner-approved professionals provided architectural and construction services while city staff monitored the work. With these modifications, the couple will be able to age in the family home. In addition to incurring no interest, payment on the loan is only due after the home is sold or after 99 years, whichever arrives sooner.
A second program also administered by the housing office is the rental accessibility modification program. This program allows low-income renters who require home improvements to stay in their apartments by providing a grant of up to $50,000. This unique program fills a gap not covered by any other service in the city.
Funded through a federal grant, the program provides for professional architects who work with the household in completing modifications needed for accessibility. It also provides mini-grants of up to $1,500 — funded through the city’s housing trust — for limited modifications to improve home livability. Participating landlords are asked to preserve these modifications, thereby increasing the supply of accessible homes.
The city also provides financial aid to local nonprofit Rebuilding Together Alexandria to support renovation projects for low-income households.
Homeowners with higher incomes who are interested in improving their homes’ energy efficiency should consider the Alexandria energy saver or home performance loan programs offered through a city partnership with CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union. These programs are easy to access and offer affordable monthly payments for a host of improvements, such as heating and cooling systems, insulation, and roof repair or replacement.
For more information on any of these programs, contact the city’s housing office at 703-746-4990 or go to www.alexandriava.gov/housing.