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Moving from an Apartment to Owning a Home - A Disability Perspective

  • Synopsis: Published: 2013-05-31 - Real life experience of home purchase and moving from an apartment encountered by a person with disability. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World.

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Quote: "Upon arriving on my new doorstep, I discovered a piece of green paper on my front window; it was from the city's code enforcement department."

The purchasing of a house was a first for this veteran with disabilities, I have always lived in apartments. What this means is that lawns have never been something that concerned me, or home maintenance of any kind other than usual house cleaning. The processes involved with buying the home were lengthy, yet the final surprise occurred when it came time to turn the key in the lock on the door for the first time.

The process of closing on a house

When a person with a disability decides to buy a home in America there are some different options available to them. One of them is the Veterans Administration's home loan program, which ended up not working for me. Another involved a state version of FHA, which did work. The paperwork involved included things such as bank account statements, proof of disability income, proof of any income earned from other sources, proof of disability status and much more.

It took a number of months to close on the house I am currently writing this article from. Yet the process did not stop there - the process also included moving itself. With the help of friends and hired hands, as well as a few dings on possessions, the items I own are now moved. Situating the things I own in the house has also been a part of the process and with the help of friends things are beginning to look like the house is a home instead of chaos.

Code Enforcement and Perfect Timing

The final surprise mentioned came when I approached my new home after completing several hours of signing paperwork at the title company to close on the house. Upon arriving on my new doorstep, I discovered a piece of green paper on my front window; it was from the city's code enforcement department. During the time it took to finalize all the paperwork, for the seller to put a new roof on the house and the garage, and for the garage to get painted - the lawn had grown wild and the grass was around a foot and a half tall or so.

Code enforcement considered the lawn to be, 'weeds,' and therefore out of code. As a person with disabilities, I had never encountered the code enforcement department before; apartment buildings and the management had always done maintenance. So - not only did I have to move my possessions into the home, situate them, and get settled in, the lawn itself had to be taken care of within ten days or I faced a $100 per day fine after that period of time.

The Difference Between a House and an Apartment

The difference between owning a home and living in an apartment is very clear - there is no maintenance staff to take care of things such as a lawn, a leaky faucet, a ding in the sheet-rock on a wall and so forth. You have to take care of things such as these yourself, or hire someone to do them for you. People with disabilities may or may not have the ability to do these kinds of maintenance tasks.

One of the things I quickly discovered is that if you have a friend or friends who have the skills needed to complete a tasks that needs to be done around a house, it is often times far less expensive to pay them to help you than to hire a professional service to do the job. During the time it took to close on this house I made a number of new friends fortunately, many of them have a variety of skills because they have lived in their own homes for several years. Before purchasing a home, it is always wise to know what skills you and your friends have, as well as to gain a good idea of the number of local, 'fix-it,' people in the area.

Where Do I Put the Gasoline

With code enforcement and a ten day period of time to get a very tall lawn filled with nails and roofing materials from the recent roofing project on the house mowed before facing hefty fines, I found myself having to borrow a friend's lawn mower. I had not used a lawn mower since I was child a far more able-bodied than I currently am due to osteoarthritis. The last lawn mower I used was a monstrous beast of a machine; these machines are much more lightweight and easy to use now.

Despite the advances in lawn mower technologies, I found myself at a loss and had to ask what might seem to be a really, really dumb question - 'Where do I put the gasoline to run the thing' My goodness - this lawn mower looked like it could run itself compared to the last one I used; smile. My friend grinned at me, showed me how to use it, and off I wobbled with it. The lawn is now mowed and code enforcement should be pleased with the results I hope.

The Neighbors

One of the things I had always been accustomed to while living in apartments was the presence of neighbors on all side of me; upstairs, below, and on both sides. Many of of the neighbors I had while living in apartments over the years were people who were not all that friendly and simply lived their lives and went their way as they pleased. While I knew some of my neighbors, I certainly did not get the opportunity to meet all of them.

As a homeowner I have met almost every single one of the neighbors I have living in houses next to me, all within a week. They are friendly people, some of them are seniors, others are veterans, some are people with disabilities and others are non-disabled persons. One of my neighbors is a veteran who has been awarded a Purple Heart.

Unlike living in an apartment, I have no neighbors upstairs. There is nobody on the other side of the wall. There is no one living below me. To be plain, living in a house is much quieter than living in an apartment.

Dogs, Chickens, and More

Apartment buildings have always charged a pet deposit for a cat or a small dog. Some apartment buildings will allow people to own a large dog, but not many. The deposits range up to several hundred dollars per pet, unless the deposit is waived because of a service animal.

Behind the house I live in now is a person who is actually raising chickens - something that is entirely new to my experience. In the apartments I have lived in a chicken would never, ever have been allowed. It is rather interesting waking up to the sound of a rooster each day.

Another one of my neighbors has three large dogs, while the neighbor right next to me has a small dog very much like my hearing assistant dog. She has her little dog for companionship, but my hearing assistant dog gets along with her dog very well fortunately. The larger dogs all seem to be friendly enough, with one exception. The exception is a large guard dog whose sole purpose is home protection.

If you decide to purchase a home as a person with disabilities, it would be wise to pursue the different options available to you and prepare all of your paperwork in advance. Make sure you have three months worth of bank statements, a credit score over 620, and proof of your disability status. Line up some friends to help you move, and make sure you have a good idea of where to get assistance with tasks around your home. Disability organizations and certain nonprofit organizations such as NeighborWorks may be able to help as well.

Gardening Grants for the Disabled
www.disability-grants.org/gardening-grants.html

How you garden and how much you do will depend on your disability (and your level of interest - of course!)

Gardening for Disabled Trust
gardeningfordisabledtrust.org.uk/

Don't let age, accident or disability stop you from enjoying your garden. Start planning your way out of trouble, frustration and aching muscles.

Disabled gardening
www.gardentoolsforallseasons.com/disabled%20gardening.php

Just because a person is disabled doesn't mean that gardening cannot be a worthwhile pastime. Many enjoyable hours can be had if the appropriate tools are used, providing endless hours of pleasure and reward.

Related Information:

  1. VA Home Loan Versus CFHA Loans - A personal experience and comparison between a CFHA home loan and Veteran Affairs housing loans - (Published 2013-05-01).
  2. Disability Housing and Home Loans for Disabled Americans - List of home loan providers in the US states who lend money for home purchases and housing down payment loans to people with disabilities and low income earners - (Published 2009-02-06).
  3. US Veteran Home Loans and Tax Benefits - A list of what each US state offers veterans in regards to home loans tax exemptions and tax benefits - (Published 2009-02-06).




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