MassMATCH is delighted to announce the receipt of a grant from the federal Administration for Community Living (ACL) to expand the Massachusetts AT Loan program. The funds will create a new way for residents to buy the assistive technology (AT) they need while also building or repairing their credit.
MassMATCH partners with Easter Seals MA to operate the AT Loan Progam (MATLP) which for over 12 years has helped residents purchase AT devices and services such as adapted vans, hearing aids, and environmental control units. Since 2005, the MATLP has financed more than $14 million to residents with disabilities and family members.
“The problem is the program has not been able to serve everyone,” notes Eric Oddleifson, Assistant Vice President for AT and Community Support Services at Easter Seals. Until now, MATLP has provided loans with a banking partner at a competitive interest rate and favorable terms, “But applicants with no credit or poor credit are rarely approved,” he says.
In January, the MATLP will launch a new AT Mini Loan program designed for these applicants. AT mini loans will finance devices and services valued between $500 and $2,000 with a very low fixed interest rate. Significantly, the loans will be administered directly by Easter Seals MA.
“Adults and seniors who have been unable to access credit to finance the AT they need or want will have a supportive way to do so,” says Oddleifson. “Easter Seals understands the lives of individuals with disabilities who are often living on a fixed income, and we understand how AT can open new doors.”
Ann Shor, Director of Independent Living and Assistive Technology at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission notes the importance of this opportunity for many adults and seniors, but particularly young adults. “Transition-age students, those ages 18-22, usually have no credit history but often need computers, specialized software, and training to be successful at school or work. The AT Mini Loan program could help a lot of young people to become financially independent and launch their own lives.”
The traditional AT Loan program is still an option for loans above $500, but the Mini Loan program will have greater latitude working with individuals with disabilities who have low credit scores or no credit history.
Individuals with financial need who want to acquire AT valued less than $500 should consider the MassMATCH Long-term Device Loan Program. This program provides devices to qualified applicants for as long as they need to use them.
Learn more about all MassMATCH AT financing options at www.massatloan.org.