San Diego Councilman Chris Cate is pushing a program to give veterans with disabilities a financial boost when they need to modify their homes. This pilot program would help veterans make changes to their home that allow them to get around more easily.
Cate urged the city to adopt the pilot program in a memorandum dated Oct 4. According to the memorandum, the proposed program would waive up to $1,000 in fees that come with many home modifications.
For veterans like Clarke Young, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, the addition of modifications are essential in keeping him and his wife out of an assistive care home and in their own. Approximately 62% of builders are currently working on modification projects, many for the elderly so that they are also able to stay in their own homes. Modifications that can enhance mobility for people of all ages include chairlifts, widened hallways and doorways, and improved plumbing and electrical.
While Young has a ramp to help his wife, who uses a wheelchair, to get into their home, the other veterans in the county could also benefit from certain modifications. If the program is approved by the City Council, it has the potential to help the 35,000 veterans with disabilities in San Diego.
Financial help has been offered in previous years. Governor of California Jerry Brown signed a law into a bill in 2017 to waive or reduce permit costs for these modifications. Cate’s program is looking to reduce costs even further by assisting with the financial burden of the actual installation.
The VA has three main grant programs that aim to assist veterans with disabilities in affording home modifications. The two grants that offer the most financial assistance are specifically for veterans who have had amputations, are blind, or have a severe burn injury. The third is slightly more open to veterans who have received a medical determination that they need home modifications, but the financial assistance is still limited.
Cate hopes to offer more widespread assistance with his program. According to a spokeswoman from his office, if approved the program will likely be put in place next summer.