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New law would help veterans with severe disabilities get housing

Veterans with the most severe disabilities could receive housing help if a newly proposed law passes.

SPRING HILL, Fla. — New legislation would help veterans with the most severe disabilities such as brain injuries lost limbs, and terminal illnesses get housing. 

The Ryan Kules Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act (H.R.3504) will improve and expand the VA’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program.

This program currently provides grants to the nation’s most severely disabled veterans.  Funds can be used to meet these veterans’ unique housing needs while assisting with buying, building, revising, and remodeling an adapted home that is barrier-free. To be eligible for this grant, veterans typically have lost at least two limbs or are confined to a wheelchair.

Army veteran Andrew Larocca received grant money through the program. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident.

Andrew's father, Dave Truman believes the house re-model has been a lifeline for the whole family.

"I think he's extremely happy with what he has. He has his own space. We try to give him his own space," Truman said.

The bathrooms are equipped with roll-in showers, a ceiling track system that gets Larocca out of the bed and into his wheelchair and into the shower, and assisted technology that easily turns on lights, music, and TV.

The grant money only paid for a portion of the remodeling. 

"This is a home. We're not a facility. It's got to be inviting for everybody."

The new law would expand housing benefits for families like Andrew's. The proposed legislation will:

  • Give prioritization in completing SAH grants to those with serious illnesses, such as ALS and other illnesses that we know are terminal and can progress quickly. These Veterans are already eligible for the grant, so this provision would give them front of the line privileges.
  • Increase the number of times a Veteran can use their SAH grant from three to six instances. These Veterans should not feel trapped in their current home when their needs change just because they don’t have the resources needed to adapt to a future home of their choice.
  • Increase the cap on the number of Post 9/11 Veterans who have lost a limb due to their service from 30 per year to 120 per year.
  • Increase the dollar cap amount on SAH grant payments by 15% over the current rate: from $85,645 to $98,492 for the large grant and from $17,130 to $19,733 for the smaller grant. This increase will help every eligible Veteran but is particularly necessary for those who live in high-cost areas around the country.
  • Authorize the VA to provide additional SAH funding to Veterans whose home no longer meets their needs ten years after they had used up the funding for their first grant. This would address adaptations for Veterans who have moved or for those whose disability has worsened since they originally used their SAH grant.

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