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Transcript - "How Disabled Find Affordable Housing" 

Brian Therrien:  Good afternoon everybody.  This is Brian Therrien today for the Disability Digest Disabled Housing Conference.  We have a guest speaker with us here today, Aaron Lema.  Aaron thanks for joining us.

Aaron Lema:  Thank you.

Brian Therrien:  Great.  Out in sunny California?  Sunny southern California?

Aaron Lema:  Yeah, it’s beautiful out here today.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.  Quite a different contract in our country.  I just got in from a skate on our backyard rink with my son, so, that’s America for ya.

Aaron Lema:  I’m in shorts and a t-shirt right now.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.  Yeah.  So, but any rate, thanks for joining us today.  We’re set to cover, you know, a very very needed topic of disabled housing.  So, the theme of what we’re going to cover today for those that are listening live and those that will listen to this as a replay is how to find affordable housing in safe neighborhoods and some of the strategies and principles that we go through and will apply...and discuss with you today apply, you know, even if you’ve got terrible credit and less than a buck in your pocket.  There are possibilities out there.  And then, you know, the key thing that we want to talk about with you is how to really make your home an affordable sanctuary that one can adapt to instead of having to change their home.  They can stay in their same home and make that work.

Aaron Lema:  That’s correct.

Brian Therrien:  So, let’s get on to it.  First, I want to cover, you know, kind of like the ABCs of disabled housing and what to do and what the resources are for our members that are out there.  Now, before we get on and get into this too much, for those of you in the audience that are out there today, you are able to listen to all of the conversation that we have and there is a chat box that is on the console, which is a piece of software that you’re looking at on your computer that you can type in any questions and also at the end of the call, if we’ve got some time, see if I can,  we can open up to a few questions for you.  So, you have your chance to communicate with us but, for now, you’re in a listen-only mode.  First of all, let me just set the landscape and maybe there’s some that you can chime in here for disabled housing, as well.  As a national topic for people with disabilities and others with accessibility issues, the disabled housing issue is probably, well not probably, is clearly to me the biggest king pin problem for people with disabilities and what I’ve learned it’s just a simple matter of inventory is low, there’s not a lot of affordable disabled housing, and the demand is very very high.  So...and there’s a long waiting list.  So...but there is some hope.  There’s some creative things that we’re going to go through and people like Aaron that are working on different ways to put people in homes.  So, at the Disability Digest, for those listening that, you know, signed up, you have a membership, we have a complete housing review and a strategy that has put people in homes, that’s allowed people that are in a certain home that want to move to a different area, it certainly has worked for them.  And how to find that information is if you go into our members area, which you can just go back to our home page, the disabilitydigest.com, and scroll down and you’ll see the members area, it’s on the right-hand-side of the page, and that will bring you into an area where down on the page you’ll see the disabled housing review, which I’m going to put up on the screen right now for everybody that’s listening and watching today.  And I’m going to go through the abbreviated strategy for people that want to upgrade their home, find a home, or change their housing.  Come in and listen to this recording that’s at the top of the page here and then what the recording will do is it will guide you down through the different resources that are available.  Now, there’s two general resources for people to improve their housing situation and one is to use HUD, which is the, you know, the government agency that oversees the housing and if...the key thing here when you go into the website and you read about it is to understand HUD, their position in disabled housing, and contact the agency and get a housing counsellor.  But before you get one, go in prepared.  Follow the information on the website.  Have your plan of action.  Understand what you want to do, what your budget it, what your debt is, what you can afford to pay.  And if you bring that information in and get a housing counsellor, they’re going to act like a real estate agent for you.  What they’re going to do is help you develop a plan of action. To preface all of this, I would just say take your time.  This is a process and it’s typically a long process.  So, there’s very few incidences where I’ve seen that people have gone in and in a matter of months have gotten housing in this environment.  But, if you are polite and persistent and work with your housing counsellor, you can, find...if there’s any possible way it can be done, that is one of the best ways to do it.  Also, the second excellent resource is to get a housing counsellor from your local Center for Independent Living.  Centers for Independent Living are advocacy agencies for people with disabilities.  They exist in just about every knock and cranny of the US.  We even have one here, not far from my home in Vermont.  And they have people on staff that are housing counsellors.  They don’t actually provide housing like HUD, but they know where the housing is and they may know of other resources that HUD does not have and provide you with additional information.  So, those are two key first steps that people can do to get started with housing.  So, anything, you know, Aaron, in your trials and experience that you can add to that that that you found that would be beneficial for members?

Aaron Lema:  Well, I think you said it all.  Go in prepared.  People always ask for help.  I think you should go in letting them know how they can help you by bringing in estimates for repairs, that kind of thing, and just go from there and show them how they can help you, and most people will respond to that.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  Um-hum.  Great.

Aaron Lema:  Everybody ask everybody.  You’re going in showing them how you’re going to get help from them directly, not asking for money.

Brian Therrien:  Well, no doubt and, I mean, they’re typically...they’re understaffed and overworked people, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease if you’re just very polite and persistent.  So, that’s good.  So, listen let’s talk a little bit about your career and what you’ve done.   I was reading your story about how you kind of got into disabled housing, you’re an able-bodied person, correct?

Aaron Lema:  That’s correct.

Brian Therrien:  You were working in the real estate industry and you were approached by a couple that was wishing to purchase a home not knowing anything about disabled or accessible housing and you showed them some home and written up an offer and what happened next was what you call was the deal killer, right?  Can you kind of fill in the audience on what your experience was and what happened from there?

Aaron Lema:  Well, what happened was I took the able-bodied buyers out to purchase the home and they determined that they really loved the home and loved the offer.  Well, when we got the counter offer back, the seller was asked to have...for us to locate a home that was wheelchair accessible for her son who was 6’2”, 300 pounds, and in a wheelchair.

Brian Therrien:  6’2”, 300 pounds.

Aaron Lema:  In a wheelchair.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  Now, you can imagine he needs needs in that his home...he couldn’t get around his home.  Period.  And we...I thought I could do this, so I looked around and I looked in the database provided by the realtors and I couldn’t find any home that say they’re wheelchair accessible.  I went throughout different little housing projects trying to find anything.  There was a universal housing, but none of that seemed to work.  There was a new home developer I approached and they decided they could do it on a single-story plan, but it was going to cost $35,000 extra on top of the house to do it and take quite a bit longer.  So, needless to say, the deal fell complete through, but what I thought was, there has to be a way of producing homes for people with disabilities and it has to be beneficial to both the builder and the purchaser, so it has to be cost effective for the builder and it has to be individualized for each buyer, because universal housing just didn’t seem to fit the bill right then and there.

Brian Therrien:  So, I want to make sure that, I understand and everybody understands the terminology universal housing.  If I understand it correctly, a builder is just given an order pretty much to say, you need an accessible house...

Aaron Lema:  Correct.

Brian Therrien:  ...and they go out and they go out and they build an accessible house that not knowing really what the accessibility needs are?

Aaron Lema:  Correct.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  It’s an outline designed to fit everybody’s needs.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  And universal housing is what I call one size fits all homes, and it does not work.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  It just...

Brian Therrien:  Yep.  And is that same does not work strategy apply in the commercial side when a commercial building is put in or is that...

Aaron Lema:  Commercial buildings are a little bit different because they’re guided by the ADA laws...

Brian Therrien:  Uh-huh.

Aaron Lema:  ...because they have to be accessible, you know, for clients and stuff that come in.  You know, if you’re going to a Jack In The Box and you go into the stall and it’s supposed to be universally, you know, usable and you’re left-handed and every bit of equipment’s on the right-hand-side and you can’t mount the toilet with your left hand, what use is that toilet?  You know, it’s...  

Brian Therrien:  Sure.

Aaron Lema:  ...it’s not disabling.  So, you know, I looked at it that way when I was building homes.  Universal housing at 6’2” like I am, my dad’s 5’5”.  If you’re a person in a wheelchair you both have different reaching capabilities.  So, universal housing, there’s no way they can design something that would fit him and myself.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  So, from there what happened with the deal?  Did you end up putting it together?

Aaron Lema:  No, we didn’t.  And as far as I know...I drive by that home, even to this day, and they still have the little hoist that hauls their son in and out of the pool, I still see their van sitting out front, so they have not moved.

Brian Therrien:  Hum.

Aaron Lema:  One of the...you have several choices.  You can live in the home that you have and live with the disabled features because you can’t modify it due to the structure or you can custom build, which costs a lot of money, or you can go out and try to find something that may meet your needs in the before market or the after-market housing.  All those are expensive options that really don’t fit the bill.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  If you can get a home...if you can get a home built by a home developer at the same cost as everybody else, at the same market value, that fits your needs, everybody wins in the marketplace.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  Um-hum.  Interesting.  So, from there you came up...did you come up and coin this phrase, simplified disabled housing?

Aaron Lema:  Yes, I did.  And individualized access housing.  Yes, I did.

Brian Therrien:  Good.

Aaron Lema:  I developed the whole system of box and everything you see on my website as a way to help new home developers build around people with disabilities.  One of the things about the disabled housing market is it’s the most adverse market you could ever market to.  They have everybody in it and with every different need and it’s so overwhelming that some developers don’t see how they can market effectively to everybody in the market using universal housing.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  They don’t...

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  I’m going to put your website up in the room for people to see here, but walk us through the ABCs of of what is simplified disabled housing?  What did you come up with and how are you addressing this challenge?

Aaron Lema:  Well, simplified disabled housing is a cost effective, easy to implement way of new home developers developing homes for people with accessibility needs.  I came up with it because I looked from the business point of view and from the disabled point of view.  I looked at the business and thought well, what can we do to make it cost effective?  So, I developed a system of 3s where everything’s done in three height, width, and depth...

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  ...which gives you tremendous flexibility in the building process.  So, it doesn’t overcomplicate your building and it doesn’t make it so that it’s just one size fits all.

Brian Therrien:  So, right now...

Aaron Lema:  It also look...

Brian Therrien:  Pardon me, Erin, but just so I understand, right now on the screen I have up a countertop.  It’s got a green dot, red dot, and a blue dot.  Is that what you’re referencing?

Aaron Lema:  Yes.  Correct.  And if you’re...if you have a model home and you’re a home developer...

Brian Therrien:  Yep.

Aaron Lema:  ...and you put my system throughout the home and my system of placement cards.  Now, what you do with a disabled buyer acceptability needs is you tour the model home with the developer.  You would reach out...you would reach .. to the counter you’re looking at the dot.  You would reach your arm out and try to cut the backsplash in the back.  Now, if you can’t touch that, it’s too far away, so you can’t use any of the plugs that would be on that wall.  So, you would move the dot in as far as you would need to go.  So, let’s say the end dot...let’s say you need 3”.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  You use the last dot.  You would reference that dot and say that’s where I want that countertop to be.  That’s where I want the edge of the countertop to be.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  Now, the developer knows where the edge of the countertop needs to be.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Nice.  Nice.

Aaron Lema:  It also works for height.  When you’re up in your chair, you look along and there will be three dots on the side.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  Now, if you move along and you can get under one dot, but you can’t get under another, you know, you need to have it on the dot you can get under.

Brian Therrien:  So, what’s the response from new home developers with this concept?

Aaron Lema:  The new home developers like the idea that it doesn’t overcomplicate the building process.  They’re interested in it because it would open them up to a new market, but they’re having fears that the disabled housing market, there is no money available for disabled buyers.  They don’t have any money, that’s what they’re telling me.  And that they have, in the past, tried to offer universal housing before, but there was not any interest in it.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  And what I’m finding and what I’m showing them to be the opposite, is that most people that call me with accessibility concerns, that I’ve been getting calls from, actual calls, own their homes free and clear or pretty close to free and clear, and are willing to sell that home and move into one that would fit them perfectly, like a glove.  Now, when they say that they don’t have any money, that’s another problem with acceptability of the disabled community is the government wants everybody in the one pile and says that’s the disabled community.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  You have to dig further to get into, okay, this is the wheelchair community, this is the...this is the people who have trouble bending.  Well, when you look at the statistics, they are kind of weak.

Brian Therrien:  Right.

Aaron Lema:  And then they offered universal housing.  Well, I believe that everybody knows pretty much what a universal house would be or that they say acceptable housing and you go look at it.  Like apartments.  You see an acceptable apartment, you’re in a wheelchair and you look at it and you’re real small, it’s not going to fit and it’s not going to work.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  So, I believe that the disabled community knows that universal housing’s out there, but they haven’t responded because, once again, it’s a one size fits all and everybody wants to be treated like an individual.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  So, you know, I concur that there certainly is a segment of, you know, the population that is really in a difficult situation, financially.  Most of those, in my opinion, are single.  On the other hand, there are a lot of people that are disabled or impaired.  I think disabled is too broad of a word, disabled and the word disability, because there are a lot of people with impairments that this would certainly be able to help, as well, that are in the audience, that are still, you know, they’re able to work and do some work and they have a spouse that works, so they do have some income coming in.  So, interesting.  So, what I’m interested about or what are some of the key areas that this is applicable for?  Like, this example here is for countertops and I’m certain you mentioned bathrooms, but where are some of the other areas that this strategy is applied for?

Aaron Lema:  Well, toilet placement believe it or not.  If you have a bathroom that’s big enough where you can have...where they can move you up on the right or left-hand-side, it’s the toilet is actually very important.  Grab rails.  If you pull the back and correct you can actually place grab rails in an infinite space.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  You can place them everywhere.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  Um, different styles of what would be needed like the height of the toilet, the style of the toilet.  If you need a wheel-up sink or a non-wheel-up sink.  Just all sorts of different areas can be applicable to it and, you know, like I said with the 3s, especially in the kitchen, three heights, three widths, three depths.  Then the countertops..the cupboards above the countertops.  I mean that’s huge flexibility.

Brian Therrien:  Sure.

Aaron Lema:  You can pretty much design that kitchen the way you want it to be.

Brian Therrien:  What about renovations?  Is it applicable?

Aaron Lema:  Absolutely it’s applicable.  One of the things you can do is talk to your contractor and say, this is what I’d like to have done, and then you need to look at the home, itself, and find out if it can be done.  Because there’s a lot of homes where the bathroom door cannot be widened.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  You know you look at it and go okay there’s the vanity or there’s the closet there’s the hallway.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  So, structurally you can’t modify that house without major expense.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  It’s like you can apply quite a few of these tools to renovating a home and that’s what I intend to do.

Brian Therrien:  So, if somebody wanted to...I don’t know if I’m jumping ahead here, but if somebody wanted to use your system, whether...let’s use both examples.  Let’s say it was for a renovation project and they wanted to come in and they wanted to have...how would they go about doing that?  Could they contact you for...

Aaron Lema:  Absolutely.  I get a lot of people that contact me wanting to know, you know, I have a bathroom and this is what I need to do.  What I do is give them the information and help them, so that when they’re speaking to the contractor, they can get the message across clearly.  Because a lot of contractors haven’t had experience dealing with putting in accessible options or, meeting accessibility, so I work with the con...I give them the information to help work with the contractor and then I know a lot of contractors in my area and I tell them, hey, this is what we need to do.  We need to take a yard stick, walk through the home, and determine if we can make this home accessible.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  Utilizing the yard...so, I help people with that as well.  I help them talk...to, you know, get their point across to the contractors.  Makes it easier for them.

Brian Therrien:  And can people learn the how to’s or how to communicate this concept to a contractor from what’s available on your site?

Aaron Lema:  Yes, they can.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  So, good.

Aaron Lema:  Not.  Not.  Not every...not every bit of it, but yes, they can.  You know if I were to put it all on this, I’d drink from a fire hose.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Yeah, yeah.  And the strategy applies for new home construction?

Aaron Lema:  New homes are a lot easier especially if they go to a developer, which is the best way to do it.  I’m looking to license from the home developer here.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  They would already have...they would already have the information available and it would be just touring their home, filling off a check-off list, and handing it back to the developer.  That’s the absolute easiest way you can do it.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Alright.

Aaron Lema:  And it’s most effective.

Brian Therrien:  So, it’s really...it’s really like a test drive before you buy concept because you’re going to be able to go through and actually experience...

Aaron Lema:  everything.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah, yeah.  Brilliant.  Brilliant.

Aaron Lema:  And of the...it helps...the developers didn’t want to be pigeon holed and have properties and say this is our accessible homes and then have people who don’t need accessibility not visit the homes or be stuck with a bunch of accessible homes.

Brian Therrien:  Um.

Aaron Lema:  So, the system is designed to be utilized by everybody.  Like I said, my dad’s 5’5”.  Since I was a little kid, I’ve been reaching up and grabbing stuff out of the cupboards for him.  If you go to a developer and have his cupboards lowered in the home, it would be much easier for him.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  There’s a lot of things you can slide by everybody, which is another appealing thing for new home developers.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  And, you know, without mentioning any specific figures, you know, I was...as we’ve talked about price and things being cost conscious, is this...I mean, how can you address the pricing on this from implementation or design or your component of it.  Can you speak to that for us?

Aaron Lema:  Exactly what I looked at.  Let’s say I go out to purchase a home as an able-bodied individual.

Brian Therrien:  Yep.

Aaron Lema:  I spent $200,000 in that home from a new home developer.  Now, I purchased that home at $200,000.  If someone with disabilities was to go and purchase the exact same home for $200,000 from a developer who’s not utilizing my system, they may have to spend $10, $20, or $30,000 above my price to get the home accessible.  If they go to a developer who uses my system, I pay $200,000, they pay $200,000.

Brian Therrien:  I see.

Aaron Lema:  The options are built for the price of the home already.

Brian Therrien:  I see.

Aaron Lema:  So, it gives them...it gives them the same market price for the home.

Brian Therrien:  So, that’s interesting.  So, is this because you have certain builders that are locked in and familiar with how to...how to implement your strategy?

Aaron Lema:  That and also every every option I I have can be utilized by everybody.  So, they can offer it to everyone.

Brian Therrien:  Um.

Aaron Lema:  every buyer.  So, every home is the basic in bulk for what needs to be done.

Brian Therrien:  So...

Aaron Lema:  It’s just adding the customized features that you need.

Brian Therrien:  So, certainly for a new home application you can save people money.

Aaron Lema:  Absolutely.  Tens of thousands of dollars.

Brian Therrien:  Interesting.  And what about for a remodel?

Aaron Lema:  Remodel’s a little more expensive because you need to look at what you’re getting into first and usually a good structural engineer could come and take a look, because if you’re widening doorways, which is the major concern, or remodelling a bathroom and pushing out walls, you need to look for bearing walls, those kinds of things.  So, it’s a little more expensive to do it that way and it’s actually a little more time consuming, because if you were to go purchase a home from a new home developer, you just wait the time until it’s done, six, seven months, it’s done.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  If you go ahead and do a remodel, depending on the size of the house, you may have to move out for awhile, wait, come back and it’s just a bigger hassle, but it can be applied to remodelling.  It’s just a little more expensive.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Okay.  So, somebody’s willing to pay a little bit more and really wants to stay in their place, then, this is good.  This is a possible way to go?

Aaron Lema:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  And it only costs a little more because, like I said, the low-bearing walls and expanding things...what I believe and what I’ve looked at is the house is devised of disabling features.  You know, when you look at it and you go oh wow, I can’t get through that door, it’s because the door’s wrong, not because of you.

Brian Therrien:  Oh, yeah, I mean...

Aaron Lema:  Can’t just...

Brian Therrien:  Certainly.  I’ve been through it with our family.  A raised ramp...when somebody becomes disabled and you’ve got to put a ramp on the front, change some of the doorways, and, you know, it’s, yeah.  Things are pretty much one level out there in California, right?  You can go in, but here in the Northeast, there’s a lot of ranch concepts, so we actually kind of enter on the second level through stairs.

Aaron Lema:  That’s right.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.

Aaron Lema:  Well, if you design the stairs properly, you use the right lifts, you actually have...there’s actually small elevator companies out there that design things.  You can...you can work in a multi-level house very efficiently.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  That’s another thing I outline in the system.  It’s actually on...it’s not on the site, but you know, I have it outlined in the system how they can apply these things to the home...to their multi-level homes.

Brian Therrien:  Good.  So, let’s...let’s recap some of the top benefits.  From what I understand is that this really allows somebody to customize the placements for everything, so you really, I mean, you’re really going to have everything set in your house, so that it’s going to be comfortable for you, right?

Aaron Lema:  To meet your needs.

Brian Therrien:  Your needs.  Customize the house to your needs instead of the universal concept where they’re guessing what they think you need and, typically, they’re not right.  So, and cost effective for for somebody buying a new home, you can save them a bunch of money.

Aaron Lema:  Absolutely and we can all save the developer money.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  So, it’s cost effective on both ends.

Brian Therrien:  Yep.  Yep.  So, this goes back to what we mentioned at the top of the call that it kind of can create an affordable sanctuary for somebody that’s got some limitations or that is disabled.  Very cool.  Did we miss anything?

Aaron Lema:  No.  No.  That covers it all.  I mean I could talk for hours on it, but that’s a good start there.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah, yeah.  Well you’ve got a beautiful website here that we’ll direct people to at the end, as well.  And also wanted to spend a moment, and I know you’ve got some other tricks up your sleeve that I wanted to see if you could spend a few minutes with us and share with people.  Primarily what I’m, you know, what I would like to learn and have you share with so many people out there that are stuck that would value the information is, you know, some simple tips that they could do if, you know, they’re in a home and they’re stuck.  Now, here’s the first example that we see.  We have a lot of people, their incomes go down.  They’ve been put on disability and they’re likely, they just can’t afford their payments anymore.  It’s kind of like the whole mortgage crisis going on in the US, but it’s been happening for the disabled for years.  And they’d like to keep their home.  They need to live somewhere, but they can’t afford the payments anymore because they’ve lost their income.  What...do you have any strategies to that audience?

Aaron Lema:  Well, yeah, actually right now I’m looking at putting together a buy and lease pack program, wherein, if you own your home you get to stay in that home, but you can’t afford that home or that home is keeping you from actually qualifying for certain programs because you own an asset.  One of the things we’d like to do is meet with you and find out about purchasing that home, rehabbing it to your needs, and then renting it back or leasing it back to you.  That way you can stay in that home.

Brian Therrien:  Interesting.  Interesting.  So...

Aaron Lema:  One of the...

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  Go ahead.

Brian Therrien:  That would help a lot of people.  Yeah.

Aaron Lema:  Well, one of the...one of the...one of the reasons we came up with this is a woman had called me and she had two jobs.  She worked as a greeter at Wal*Mart and at a drugstore on another one just to take care of her husband who lives in the home with her who has multiple sclerosis. 

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  Now, she was $100 a month over qualifying for the multiple sclerosis and she couldn’t qualify for the other programs because they actually owned their home and they owned it free and clear.  And, they couldn’t...they needed to modify the home and it was going to cost $4,000, because she went to Home Depot and got the estimates, got the contractor out there, he wrote up everything nice to say $4,000.  She went to apply for loans, bank turned her down.  She went to apply for a grant for housing or assistance in getting it rehabbed through the county and the city and state and stuff, they turned her down.  One of the things I was saying was, well, maybe we’ll purchase your home at whatever the market value is less the rehab costs and then rent it back to you and you know that the house now is built for your needs because you’ve got the offer...the estimates to do the work and then you could stay in that home and what it would effectively do is lower her monthly payment, total, by about $250.00.

Brian Therrien:  Nice.  So, somebody could stay in their home, get it renovated, lower their payment, and accomplish what they want.  The key is they’ve got to have some equity.  They’ve got to own that home though, right?

Aaron Lema:  Correct.  Correct.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Alright.

Aaron Lema:  And they need to...they need to own a home and then you have some equity, but they...we also need to be able to help them out with their bills.  I mean if they...if we can’t lower their bills and get the situation straightened out, the best bet may be, you know, we’ll talk to them and say maybe you just need to sell the house and move him to maybe an independent living center or an apartment.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  There was a case we had that happen as well.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  So, you know, we look at all the aspects for that.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  And give them an overview of what they need to do.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Well, what about an instance where somebody’s in a home and they become disabled and, you know, it doesn’t make sense for them to go through and renovate their home.  So, but, they want to build new.  So, that would be clearly an application where you could...they could use, you know, the simplified disabled housing strategies that you’ve mentioned.  They could contact you and, perhaps, you could point them in the right direction?

Aaron Lema:  Correct.  Correct.  They could contact me and find out the developers we’re working with in their area.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  We’re not everywhere, so I want to let people know that if they like what they see, they need to contact developers and say, hey, maybe you should, you know, talk to this gentleman and we will purchase your home if you were using that.  I would greatly appreciate that, as well.

Brian Therrien:  Sure.

Aaron Lema:  You know, we’re not everywhere yet, but we’re working on it.

Brian Therrien:  Well, you know, there’s a lot of that needs to be done in this industry.  Together we can all make a difference, so I’m sure you’ll get some folks to help you out.  Okay.  What about other strategies to help people save their home that are pressed?  Let’s say you can’t help them or is there...are there other steps that they should take before they contact you to see if they could help them?  Are there any local resources or regional that you could think of?

Aaron Lema:  Absolutely.  Most people are amazed when they call and they say, you know, I need help rehabbing my home and I direct them to the local housing redevelopment agency or it could be called The Housing Authority in their area.

Brian Therrien:  Is that HUD?

Aaron Lema:  No.  There’s actually little housing authorities for the city, state, the county, so you need to look for the city housing authority, the state, or the county housing authority or call the redevelopment agency, as well.  They’ve got...you can go under either name.  And in California, in Riverside where I’m at, The Housing Redevelopment Agency actually has a $10,000 forgivable loan for people with disabilities if they live in their house for 15 years.

Brian Therrien:  So...

Aaron Lema:  If they live in it for seven, they pay back five.  And if they rehab the house for people with disabilities and make it acceptable.  There are...there are areas that they need to look at most people call me back and well, it was kind of interesting.  I talked to them and they do have some money available, not a lot, but enough, and those are the two resources.  You should never forget about your city your state and your county, because they want to help, they want to make your life better, and they usually have money and nobody’s been asking for it.

Brian Therrien:  So...

Aaron Lema:  The have money to back up.

Brian Therrien:  ...this...this...this is interesting.  I want to get the Riverside deal, so, in Riverside, I used to live there, actually, one of my many stops on the tour and so if somebody is to say, well, they can go to the city and they can likely apply for this and it’s $10,000 and the criteria would be they need to use it for their housing expense renovating or buying down their debt or...

Aaron Lema:  No.  It’s strictly...it’s through The Housing Redevelopment Agency, not the city or the, you know...

Brian Therrien:  Oh, okay.

Aaron Lema:  ...it’s through the redevelopment agency...

Brian Therrien:  Yep.

Aaron Lema:  ...and if the corp...agency was set up to, you know, help with removing urban blight and a bunch of other stuff and one of the things they did was they they helped senior citizens fix their home and then they realized, wow, we could help people with disabilities make their homes more assessable.  That was their next step was, hey, if you have...if you’re living in your home and you need your bathroom, you know, to be safer, go ahead and apply and we will furnish you with the money to make your home more accessible.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  And there are a lot of agencies.  I do a lot of...a lot of people call me or they contact me through my website saying, hey, this is where I live and, amazingly enough, I just get on the Internet...

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  ...I type in their city and I look for Redevelopment Agency or Housing Authority and then I look through the pages on there for any information that would say housing granted by HUD or grants awarded through state.  Like in Texas, there was a huge $20 million grant given by Housing and Urban Development to help people with disabilities and that was in 2005 and, you know, it’s still...the money’s still available.  It’s on through 2010.  They just need to get on the computers and look for The Housing Authority and Redevelopment Agency in their community.

Brian Therrien:  Great.  Housing Authority and Redevelopment Agency.  Okay.  Awesome.

Aaron Lema:  Good sources.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Good.

Aaron Lema:  Also your banks.  Banks...people don’t even think about going to the bank and saying, hey, do you have any programs for people with disabilities?  I had talked to a banker from Comerica Bank and they they...he told me that banks are required to do loans in lower income areas for urban blight or those kind of things and they also have programs for people with disabilities.

Brian Therrien:  They do?

Aaron Lema:  You need to call your bank.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah, yeah.  Actually, we’ve had members that have expressed success by going to HUD and HUD will work with them to negotiate with the bank.

Aaron Lema:  Correct.

Brian Therrien:  Yep.  Yep.  Yep.

Aaron Lema:  And you can go right through the bank directly.  Sometimes they have a program available.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  Um-hum.  Great information.  Okay.  Any other...any other tips?

Aaron Lema:  Just keep working and be prepared and always...always be in the mindset of how they can help you.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  Don’t ask for money.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  Make it a quality of life, health and safety issue and people are more apt to help you.

Brian Therrien:  Health and safety issue.  Very nice.  Okay.  Well, good.  Well, this has been great.  What I would like to do is see if there’s any questions from the audience here, if you don’t mind spending a few more minutes with us.

Aaron Lema:  Oh, absolutely.

Brian Therrien:  And while I’m just going to just put a message out to the audience here and give them the how to, I’ll go through a few other resources that we have.  So, for those of you that are in...in the...in the audience out there and have questions, what you can do now is on the console there is a raise your hand feature.  It’s just like those days when you were in class and what you can do is raise your hand and then I will...I will select you folks, individually, and give you notification and then you’ll be able to speak to us and we would be glad to take your question and do what we can to help you out.  So, while we’re doing that, one of the things I wanted to mention to...I see some hands coming up here, so, wanted to mention to those in the audience there’s some resources that we have.  At the top of the call I mentioned the, in the members area, there’s a housing review.  The other thing, for those that are listening to the replay of this and anybody that’s on the call today will get it, is that we have...in our community we have started a housing group.  And the group really...let me first of all explain the community.  The community’s like MySpace or facebook, but it’s specifically for our members.  You can go in, sign up, put up a profile, you can communicate with others in different groups based on what your needs are and it’s a free, easy place to lend a helping hand or get a helping hand.  And there’s a housing group in there.  It’s just opened and there’s 22 different people that have already signed up on it.  But, you can exchange ideas and get tips and learn from others and, you know, this is one of these very complicated processes where we’re going to have to learn how to, you know, solve some of our own problems and find out, you know, how we can help others.  So, have a look at the community as well.  So, alright.  Just give me one moment folks.  I’m going to scan through some of these...some of the audience here that has questions.  Okay.  Got a lot of hands up.  Alright, what I’m going to do is I’m going to, oops, let’s see what this does.  I’m...for those of you who have raised your hands, I’m going to call your name and then I’m going to give you the ability to speak.  So, first up is Dorothy Rodriguez.  Dorothy, if you are logged into the room and you have your hand up, you’ll hear a prompt that will allow you to speak to Aaron and I?  Can you hear us Dorothy?  

Dorothy:  I’m here.

Brian Therrien:  How are you today?

Dorothy:  I’m fine.

Brian Therrien:  Well, that’s good.  Thanks for joining us.  How can we help you?  What’s your housing question for us?

Dorothy:  I have Section 8.  It’s called Modern Rehab  I guess I’m trying to get like better housing.  I have...it’s a one bedroom and I have a baby and it’s taking awhile to...it’s my first time in Section 8, so I really don’t know how how it works.  I’m trying to get a bigger place for me and my child.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  What steps have you taken?

Dorothy:  I went to the office.  I did the forms, but they say it takes 60-90 days and so far it’s been a month already and I’m still waiting.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  So, when you...

Dorothy:  I get SSI.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  So, you’re on SSI, you’re on Section 8, you’re looking for new housing and you say you’ve completed forms.  Where have you completed forms?  What agency?

Dorothy:  My case manager can tell you more.  He just told me to come to this office and they gave us the form that my doctor had to fill out to get me closer because I’m far away from my doctor and everybody...

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Dorothy:  ...to get me healthy, near my doctor and stuff.

Brian Therrien:  So, is your question like how to speed it up or what other options are there?

Dorothy:  Yeah.  Other options because..  I don’t know what’s going on in the office here.  It got raided by the...it’s taken over by HUD then it got raided because they was skimming money and I really don’t know what’s going on with our...the housing here.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Here’s my suggestion then I’ll see if Aaron has some more.  The first...without knowing what agency that you’ve gone to, it’s difficult to direct you from here, but I would go back, from the top of the call that we had today, is I would pursue the housing counsellor from HUD and also from the Centers from Independent Living and put that site back up in the room here, so that you can have a look at it.  But, go into the members area, which you can get to from our home page, the disabilitydigest.com, then click on the members area and go down into the housing section and follow those.  It’s likely if you...I’ve done...and are on Section 8, that you have done part of this process before.  I would expect that if you’re not familiar with the Center for Independent Living, that you likely have not been there and that would be another great resource for you to pursue.  And they might have access to other ideas for housing for you and some things that may have been overlooked.  So, Aaron, anything to add to that?

Aaron Lema:  That would be the best thing to do and then what I would do is look for housing close to your doctor that would fit your needs for rent.  Find out who owns the house and ask them if they would be willing to go Section 8 on that house.  So, try to look at it backwards.  Say I have all the paperwork from Section 8, I like the home, would you be willing to rent it to me if I had Section 8.  Find somewhere close to your doctor.

Dorothy:  Yeah, but the housing you’re talking about getting is, I need a voucher and I don’t have a voucher.

Brian Therrien:  You’re waiting for your voucher?  Yeah.

Dorothy:  It’s going to be a long time.  They on 500 and I’m 30,000 and something, so I’m not...probably won’t be here until they get to my number.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Dorothy:  How I got about getting this apartment I have now it was they send me a letter telling me to come check out this apartment and then I had to wait for the Section 8 appointment to do the paperwork to get this apartment.  It’s not that I have a voucher to get the other apartment the gentleman’s talking about.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  You know, some other creative, and Aaron that’s a brilliant idea, by the way, but what you’re saying, Dorothy, is that you expect it to be quite some time before you actually get your Section 8 voucher, right?

Dorothy:  Yeah.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  I was under the understanding that you were on Section 8.  That’s what I understood.  So, some other ideas that I would...that other members have done is, and I don’t know what your disability...what limitations it puts on you, but, and these are just ideas, is they have looked at doing home sharing.  So, what some members have done, there’s a lot of people that have homes that have rooms in them, that have a lot of space in them for that matter, and there are members of our site that have gone out and they’ve been able to say, well, listen, you know what, if I could stay in your house I could, in turn, do some stuff for you like maybe put out your medicine or, you know, help you do an odd errand here and there while I go to the grocery store and that has enabled people to get into into housing.  Craigslist has been a good resource for people to find.  Places like that.  There’s like a co-housing thing that’s been pretty popular here in Vermont actually.  So, that’s another idea.  And I’d joined the community that I mentioned and get ideas from others.  It sounds like, while you’re in the wait, you’re going to need to really go through, just go through all your options.  Okay?

Dorothy:  Okay.

Brian Therrien:  Alright.  Thanks for joining us today.

Aaron Lema:  Thank you.

Dorothy:  Alright.  Bye.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Let’s see who else we have for questions here.  Alright, I have just given Bruce Ransberger the ability to speak.  Bruce, you should hear a prompt here in a moment that will give you the indication that you can communicate to us, so, are you out there?  Alright, we’ll leave you on.  If you are, if you hear us you can speak.  Let’s try another one.  Okay.  Jennifer Prince?

Jennifer Prince:  Hi.  How are you?

Brian Therrien:  Well, last I checked I was doing really good.  Thanks for asking.  How are you?

Jennifer Prince:  I’m doing pretty good.

Brian Therrien:  Good.

Jennifer Prince:  Well actually I’ve never been in a house on my own and I’m trying to avoid all the problems she’s having because here in Wichita Falls, that’s about all they have is Section 8 or a house in the projects for people with disabilities and I just don’t really like that idea.  So, I was thinking what are my chances of actually owning my own home, so I can just buy and then live in it and get it modified so I can get around and things like that without having to through section our house and, like I said, all the problems that Dorothy’s having right now.  Because down here, that’s just not a good idea.

Brian Therrien:  So, you...

Jennifer Prince:  Too much paperwork, yeah, go ahead.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.  So, your real question is, are what are the chances of me owning my own home?  Are you disabled, on Social Security disability?

Jennifer Prince:  Yes.  I have cerebral palsy.  I’ve had cerebral palsy since I was born.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Alright.  Well, you know we we have some limited information, but Aaron you want to take a shot at this one?

Aaron Lema:  Where are you located?

Jennifer Prince:  Wichita Falls, Texas.

Aaron Lema:  Texas?  Oh, Texas has great programs for people with disabilities.  Let me see if I can find the information I had, give me one second.

Jennifer Prince:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  I’m going to try and find that.  There’s a rural development agency.  Ah, that’s what it is.  It’s a Texas Rural Development Agency.  Write that down.  They have programs for people on...to develop their houses in rural areas, so you get out of the bad ones.  Another thing I would check is Habitat for Humanity...

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.

Aaron Lema:  ...if you want to own your own home.  Now, you have to put money in it.

Brian Therrien:  You have to have some income, though.

Jennifer Prince:  I have student loans to pay off still.

Aaron Lema:  Oh, you have some loans to pay off?

Jennifer Prince:  Those are my other problem.  I have student loans that I need to pay off, so.

Brian Therrien:  Well, here’s another thing.  If, Jennifer, if you have student loans and you’re disabled, most people don’t know this, but you can...you can likely get those forgiven.  And, we haven’t put out any information, publicly, about this, but I do know members that have done it, so what I would suggest that you do on that is e-mail support at the Disability Digest and request the information and we will send it to you.

Jennifer Prince:  So, go to your home page?

Brian Therrien:  Just e-mail support at the disabilitydigest.com or reply to one of the e-mails that was sent to you from the Disability Digest and put in the subject line, you know, forgiving student loans and request that information.

Jennifer Prince:  Okay.  Thank you.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  Yep.  Yep.  Anything else Aaron?

Aaron Lema:  No.  Pretty much covered it.  I wasn’t aware she didn’t have any income coming in.

Jennifer Prince:  Well, I I I’m on disability, but I’m saying, as far as, you know, owning my own home I don’t know how much, you know, owing so much in students loans would affect my chances of either getting a grant and I’m really not sure I qualify for a loan, because I’ve already got student loans and I need to pay it back.

Brian Therrien:  There...

Jennifer Prince:  So, that’s my thing.  You know, I’m on a fixed income and I have...

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.

Aaron Lema:  Texas is actually one of the best areas that I found that has information for people with disabilities for housing, and they’ve built thousands of home for people with disabilities.  Last I looked it was close to 8,000 homes they built in Texas in the past couple of years for people with disabilities.

Brian Therrien:  Wow.

Aaron Lema:  So, you live in a really good state for that.

Brian Therrien:  Wow.

Jennifer Prince:  Huh.  Well, I really don’t know where to look then, because I’m just like wow.

Aaron Lema:  Texas...go to texas.gov and there should be the Texas Rural Development project and they’re the ones who got funded in 2005 for HUD for millions of dollars for redevelopment and for people with disabilities to purchase or rehab homes or to help them with their housing.  So, I would go to texas.gov and look for the resource.

Jennifer Prince:  Okay.

Brian Therrien:  And if you can’t find it, the replay of this call will be out in about a week and we’ll grab that for you.

Jennifer Prince:  Okay.

Brian Therrien:  Okay?  Good luck.  Happy house hunting.  Keep us posted.

Jennifer Prince:  Alright.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  I’d like to know how it goes to help other people as well.

Brian Therrien:  Alright.  Good.  Okay.  You bet.  Alright.  Some good questions here.  Alright, let’s see who else we have.  We’ve got...we’ll take a couple more.  Okay.  Gloria McDuffy, I’ve just given you the ability to speak.  You should hear a prompt from us momentarily.  Are you out there?  Can you hear us, Gloria?  No.  Try one more here.  Okay.  James Chenough.

James Channel:  It’s Channel.

Brian Therrien:  Channel.  I knew I was taking a risk when I said that.  How are you, James?

James Channel:  It’s okay.  I’m doing better today, thanks.

Brian Therrien:  Good.  Thanks for joining us.  How can we help ya?

James Channel:  The last two questions kind of prompted me.  I wasn’t going to raise my hand.  But, especially since Aaron is in Riverside, I was in Imperial County, California, but was forced to move to San Diego due to...I have a cardiac issue, and I was also forced to go on disability.  This has all happened in the last three months.  And, you know, we went from a...I’ve got an infant son.  We went from a 3-bedroom home there that we were renting to a very small 1-bedroom apartment that, literally, from my walker, and I’m beginning now to have to use a mobility cart, I’m having a difficult time to get around.  I really know of no resources in San Diego, at all, and I didn’t know, since Aaron was so close, he might know of some things down.

Aaron Lema:  Well, actually, you can contact me through my website, simplifieddisabledhousing.com, on the contact web page.

James Channel:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  Give me the information, you know, fill out the information and the comment forms, put that we spoke during this webinar and go ahead and give me a brief description what it is and what I will do is I will look through the resources that I have, give you the information and get it back to you by Monday.  I’ll send you an e-mail back with what I have available, because I do have a pretty good list of resources for California.  I just don’t have...I couldn’t pull it off the top of my head, but if you do that, I’ll do that for you.

James Channel:  Okay.  It seems like I, you know, I was moved, automatically, to the top of the rehabilitation program for the state.  Of course, my mind is still …  I was in manufacturing management for over 20 years.  It just...physically I can’t do some of the things I was able to do before and yet even though I get useful  it seems like it just takes forever, you know, and I guess it really doesn’t, but when your income’s dropped as low as mine has it does feel like forever.

Brian Therrien:  I’m sorry Aaron.  I was just wondering, are you…you’re three months out of work; is that correct?

James Channel:  No.  I’m over a year out of work, but I was on paid disability…

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Alright.

James Channel:  …at first and then I, you know, the good and bad news is is I was accepted to Social Security on the first time around.  The bad news is is that means you’re usually, you know, that your disability is pretty bad to be able to be accepted right away.  So, you know, this is all new…and even with the state disability, that didn’t affect me that much, because the state disability in California is…was, you know, basically, it was about a little over 55 or 60% of my gross, which was, you know, by the time you took all the taxes out, really wasn’t that big of a difference that I really saw.  But once that dropped off and I went on SSGI, it’s literally dropped about 75%.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  Um-hum.  Yep.  Yep.  So, well, it’s tough.

Aaron Lema:  You know…

Brian Therrien:  Well, I keep cutting you off, Aaron, I’m sorry, but I would just say, James, I’d follow the process and all the different nooks and crannies of information that we have and hopefully we can, you know, do what we can to help you maximize your benefits and squeak every…

James Channel:  Right.  Well, I’m really hoping…I’m going to actually watch the one that you actually did on starting a home business.  Something along that line.

Brian Therrien:  Sure.  Yeah, with Andy Leaf.  Another good Californian.

James Channel:  Yeah.

Brian Therrien:  Sure.

James Channel:  Yeah.

Brian Therrien:  Sorry, Aaron, I cut you off again.

Aaron Lema:  I was going to say, sometimes you just have to grin, bear it, and wait.  I mean, you know, it’s a giant bureaucracy you’re dealing with and they don’t realize it’s people.  You’re a number, not a person.  So, just, don’t take it personal.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

James Channel:  Okay.  I’ll drop you that e-mail, Aaron.  I appreciate both of you.  Thank you.

Aaron Lema:  Great.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  You’re welcome.

Aaron Lema:  Look forward to hearing from you.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Alright.  Let’s see, there’s one other here.  We’ll see if we have one other question that we can take in the time.  So, Lynette, I have just given you the ability to speak, Lynette, so if you can hear us, we’d love to hear from you.

Lynette:  Hello Brian.  It’s nice to finally hear your voice.

Brian Therrien:  Well, thanks for joining us.

Lynette:  Yep.  I was just wondering, right now we are having severe financial problems.  My husband’s been out of work almost three months and I’m receiving workman’s comp, but as you know, workman’s comp doesn’t pay all your bills.  The house that I’m in has severe problems.  How would you start the process of finding suitable housing?

Brian Therrien:  Aaron?

Lynette:  I’m in Oklahoma.

Brian Therrien:  You’re in Oklahoma.

Aaron Lema:  The home that you own is having problems or it’s a rental home?

Lynette:  It’s a rental home, but they do not fix things.  Our heating bills are extremely high, because there’s no like no insulation in our house.  But right now, this is what we can afford.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Lynette:  And, actually, we’re behind on our rent, so I’m thankful that they haven’t evicted us.  But, I would really love to find a house that I don’t have to worry about my utilities because they’re so high, because it’s not suitable housing.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Lynette:  They do not fix things and I can’t really push the issue because we’re behind in our rent like I said.

Brian Therrien:  Um.  Right.

Lynette:  And I’d just like to get a decent house that I don’t have to worry about the electrical, you know, there’s no insulation.  We have to put plastic on the windows and we’ve been here for like four years and we’ve outgrown this house.  But, I just want to get a house that I can feel comfortable, that I don’t have to do all this extra, because right now I really am not capable of doing it.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  Are you on housing?

Lynette:  no

Aaron Lema:  Are you on housing?

Lynette:  No.

Aaron Lema:  No, you’re not…you’re doing it on your own.  Did you need to apply…

Lynette:  Yes.

Aaron Lema:  …for the house?

Lynette:  No.  I do not know where to start…

Aaron Lema:  Well, you can start…

Lynette:  …as far as going and applying for housing and things of that sort.

Aaron Lema:  Okay.  You can start by going and getting a caseworker and then talking to the Independent Living Centers and stuff, as well, just like Brian mentioned at the top of this thing.  That’s the first place you need to start, is doing that.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.  You know, one thing that exists in a lot of different communities is, and this is where the Centers for Independent Living can really step in, is like they work with Catholic charities, it’s catholiccharities.org, which provides rental relief, pending on a situation.  So, I would…as Aaron said, I would go back and I would go right to the Centers for Independent Living first.  Explain your situation and where you’re at and sit down with them and find out what you can do, first of all, for rental relief and see if you can get some type of relief for your situation to get a short-term fix and, maybe, if you can get your rent caught up, you can put a little pressure on the current situation until you find another solution.  So, that would be the…

Aaron Lema:  That’s through the…

Brian Therrien:  …pardon me?

Aaron Lema:  …also going through the, like I said, the redevelopment agencies and the Housing Authority.  They have programs available, once again, like even for renters.  Now, the tenant qualifies to get the home fixed, so if there’s energy efficiency or, you know, as far as accessibility concerns, you would have…you would apply for the rental…for the grant or the loan through the city and they would do it based on the fact that your income and that you’re a renter.

Brian Therrien:  Um-hum.

Aaron Lema:  You can go to the agencies and say, hey, I need money from you to fix up this rehab property and I don’t know any homeowner that would say no, you can’t fix my home up, especially if they don’t have to pay for it.

Brian Therrien:  Yeah.

Lynette:  Right.

Aaron Lema:  That may be another way of going through it is going to the Housing Authority and say, look, this house has these problems.  I need to get around it properly or I need accessibility.  Here’s what I need to do.  Can I get some money from you to fix up a rental?  And there may be monies available to do that, as well, through those agencies.

Lynette:  Okay.  Great.

Brian Therrien:  One other idea, Lynette, is if you have…if you have a short-term need like you’re on workman’s comp, right?

Lynette:  Yes.

Brian Therrien:  Do you…in the foreseeable future, do you see that you’ll be able to go back to work?

Lynette:  No.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Lynette:  I’m in the process…I filed for disability twice.  I have been turned down, but through your digest, I have been contacted and I’m in the process of retaining an attorney to try to get my disability.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Alright.  One of the other things that I would suggest, which is a high probability of success if you can find the right application, is applying for a Modest Need grant.  Now Modest Need grant, and Aaron I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, this guy’s done a great job.  His name is Keith Taylor.  If you’re looking at the screen, it’s in Section 5 of the members area, and there’s an interview with him.  But, what he has done is he’s put together a program that you can apply and, if you’re approved, you get your money in 14 days.  Now, Modest Needs is for short-term…a short-term need like, you know, if you’re behind in your rent and you’re going to get evicted, but you’ve got money coming in, something that will tide you over so that you won’t spiral into debt.  And that’s their whole modus operandi, but if you apply, 50% of the people that apply for these grants are getting approved in 14 days or less, but the grants are like under $1,200, so like we’ve had members on this site, one had a child that needed special medication.  She was disabled, she had three children, needed special medication and she got a Modest Need Grant and somebody else had got it for mobility equipment and somebody else had a winterization issue.  So, these are highly probable, short-term, you know, small chunks of money and for those that are listening that, you know, if you’re…if you’re looking for a grant, great.  If you could possibly afford to support Keith Taylor’s effort, this is my commercial for the day, even if it’s only $5.00 a month, what he’s doing is fantastic, well needed, you know, you can give back as well.  So, you can find that, Lynette, in the members area as well.

Lynette:  Yes.  I have been checking that out.

Brian Therrien:  Good.  Good.

Lynette:  You’ve been a great inspiration and a great help.

Brian Therrien:  Well, I thank you for that.  I thank you for that and becoming a member.  So, we look forward to your success story when you get your new home or get your current one fixed.

Lynette:  I am looking forward to it too.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Great.  Thanks for joining.

Lynette:  Thank you.

Brian Therrien:  Alright.

Lynette:  Yes.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Well, I know we’re at the top of the hour and I appreciate you spending the time that you have.  So, let’s just go through and we’ll do a wrap up here.  How’s that sound, before we close things down for the day, Aaron?

Aaron Lema:  Excellent.  Excellent.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  So, let’s go through this.  First of all, let’s go through some disabled housing.  Some of the key benefits that we talked about.  You know, whether you’re…especially if you’re going to be looking at a new home.  It’s a very cost-effective way to have the accessibility accommodations just spot-on tailor fit your needs.  Place the components around the house based on your needs, not based on some type of generic concept of…

Aaron Lema:  Exactly.

Brian Therrien:  …universal accommodations.  So, so, that’s key.

Aaron Lema:  Universal housing, it just doesn’t work.  The thought’s there and it’s a beautiful idea, but it just doesn’t work.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Yeah, I can see why.  So, and and for…and the concept does work for remodeling your home, but, you know, the…financially, it’s less likely that you’re going to save any money, whereas, if you’re getting into a new home you can actually save people tens of thousands of dollars by using this concept and the builder that knows how to implement it, right?

Aaron Lema:  That is correct.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.

Aaron Lema:  They buy it at the fair market value instead of having to modify it out-of-pocket later.

Brian Therrien:  Beautiful.

Aaron Lema:  They’re getting the same deal everybody else gets.

Brian Therrien:  Beautiful.  Okay.  So, those are key tips and where…for anybody that is, you know, stuck in moving around their housing, we’ll put a questionnaire at the bottom and, you know, you can complete the questionnaire and see if there’s some help that you can provide for them.  The other great resources that you had talked about was for people to look at their city, state, and local level, town level, for the Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Authority?

Aaron Lema:  The Redevelopment Agency or Housing Authority, correct.

Brian Therrien:  Redevelopment Agency or Housing Authority, okay.  Super.

Aaron Lema:  There’s city, county, and state government websites can have information that link you to housing and other aspects like that, you know, rental assistance, all sorts of stuff.

Brian Therrien:  Okay.  Good. Good.  Anything else?  Did we miss anything?

Aaron Lema:  Oh, we covered it all.

Brian Therrien:  Great.

Aaron Lema:  Well, as much as we can in an hour.

Brian Therrien:  Yes.  Exactly.  We packed in a lot.  So, good.  And for members that are listening out there, just to recap where you can find everything, this interview will be circulated around again and you can scroll down to the bottom of the replay page and find all the resources that we mentioned here today.  The Disability Digest resources and Aaron’s resources and we host these conferences once a month.  They’re typically the first Wednesday of every month.  So, mark your calendar.  We have, you know, other great guest speakers like Aaron that join us.  So, we welcome you back.  So, and last, in closing, as members I want to thank you for supporting the Disability Digest and coming out and listening.  And most importantly thank you Aaron for this wealth of information.

{end of the interview}