It’s a basic truth of home ownership that at some point, the home will need repairs of some kind. Unfortunately, not all homeowners can afford to make repairs when they are needed, which leaves them to live in less than ideal conditions until they can get the money they need. Sometimes, the house falls into such a state of disrepair that the owners can’t live there anymore, or safety issues endanger those living there.
There are some programs that help homeowners make repairs to their homes or customize them as needed for efficiency or to accommodate special needs due to injuries or disability. Home improvement grants can provide funds for needed repairs or renovations.
Income Requirements for Grants
Government-based grants are usually dependent on a homeowner’s income or situation, such as having a disability. Lower income homeowners are often favored, with some limiting grants to those with 80 percent of the median household income while others may allow up to 150 percent of the median income for that area.
One place to look for grants and assistance is HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has national programs and also works with states to provide grants for low income homeowners that need assistance making repairs to their homes.
One program HUD offers is the Good Neighbor Next Door program, which allows law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers to buy a home for 50 percent off the list price if they buy in certain (usually distressed) areas. While this program doesn’t directly provide money to make home repairs, the significant discount this program provides can leave homeowners more cash to make home repairs when needed.
The National Homebuyer’s Fund is another multistate program that gives homeowners 5 percent of the loan amount when they find a lender for the home they want to buy. These funds are a grant and do not have to be repaid, and they could be used to make repairs on the home.
Adapted Housing Grants are available through the Veterans Administration for disabled veterans to make upgrades to their homes or homes they purchase so they will be accessible to them. These grants can be the perfect solution to the need to make renovations to an existing home in order to accommodate a disability.
Local Programs Offer the Most Help With Home Repairs
Most available home repair grants are local or state programs rather than national ones. Even programs that are available in many areas are administered locally and must be applied for locally as well. Some of these programs have age requirements, income requirements or require that the homeowner have a disability.
Habitat for Humanity is a program that is available in most states, but is locally administered. Accepted homeowners work alongside program volunteers to renovate, repair or adapt homes according to their needs, and the materials are paid for by the program.
Various state and local programs may provide help with certain types of repairs, such as sewage and plumbing repairs, HVAC repair and replacement, or roofing help for those with demonstrated needs. The HUD website has listings of grant and assistance opportunities for each state, such as this one for Pennsylvania. There are also listings for many of the larger cities and for counties on the HUD site as well.
Another good place to find out about assistance programs and grants is through mortgage lenders, although some of these programs are only available at the time of a home purchase or when an equity loan is processed.
Read the Fine Print
You will want to familiarize yourself with all of the requirements of a grant before you accept it. Some grants will need to be repaid if you don’t live in the home for a certain period of time, or are forgiven at a certain percentage per year. And if you don’t meet all the requirements of the grant, you may have to pay it back if the mistake is discovered.
There may be other requirements of grants for home improvements as well. A few towns in Italy have decided to sell abandoned homes there for only $1 in order to encourage people to move there, but the agreement requires homeowners to invest $25,000 in repairs and upgrades to the home in order to live there. Requirements like these are intended to improve run-down areas or properties at the same time they help homeowners afford to buy or keep their homes.
Home renovation grants may require some investigation and legwork, but grants can provide a way to get needed home repairs and renovations done as well as to update your home to be more energy efficient and affordable over the long term. Programs that provide grants want to encourage people to stay in their homes even if age or income status would otherwise prevent them from doing so.