Of all the questions and comments we get on the Free Grant Community, home repairs are one of the most frequent topics. So you are not alone! Around $300 billion is spent every year on remodeling and maintenance – but you may not have the funds necessary for your own repairs.
If you are a senior on a fixed income, a single parent with more needs than resources or one of many struggling through a tough economic situation, you may be in need of money for home repairs or emergency assistance with your heating or cooling system. And banks may not give you the time of day.
Home Repair Grants, Loans and Programs are available! And there are new home repair assistance programs that may be the answer to your problem. Some are from the government and others are available from state agencies, public utilities, private foundations and other non-profit agencies.
If you're trying to buy a home that needs repairs, or own a home that could be refinanced, you may also be able to apply for a 203(k) loan through Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to include the cost of repairs in your mortgage.
Discover your program today!
The programs and opportunities discussed below are related to your own home. If you are seeking grants to help maintain and/or preserve a historical building or buildings, see Grants for Historical Buildings. If you don't qualify for the programs described below or if they are not enough to meet your needs, check out other resources in our article I Need Help. For more topics related to money needs for your home or for housing in general there's an excellent summary of information available in Home Grants. There are also reviews of these and other programs that can assist you in Low Income Help.
Local Home Repair Help Many cities and counties offer home repair help based on block grants they receive from the federal government. In the city of Dallas, Texas there is a program (the Community Service Department’s Home Repair Program) specifically targeted at maintaining the existence of low income housing available to its residents. By assisting with repairs and reconstruction it helps ensure that people are safe and healthy and homes are not lost. Low income residents of Dallas who are interested in the program can call 214-670-3644 to get in the queue to begin the eligibility process.
In Sacramento, CA the SHRA was started by the City Council and the Board of Supervisors to support the needs of the community in terms of affordable housing. They have a budget close to $200 million and more than 200 employees working to create and make available for the most needy. They also provide grants (money that does not have to be repaid) for for home owners with lower incomes. There are several different programs which address issues of threats to the occupants’ health and/or safety, needed upgrades to make house last longer, and improvements that must be made for accessibility. They also offer loan programs.
Non-Profit Programs Near You These are worth making an effort to find. They vary from state to state and county to county so it takes a little effort - but just a little. Local non-profits receive funds from the block grants states and communities get from the federal government. An example is an outfit called Project Home. In Dane County Wisconsin they recently (July 2015) offered a program to help low-income folks with major home repairs. The offer was a dream come true: low-interest, deferred payment loans of $5,000 to $23,000 packaged in separate mortgages that don't have to be repaid until the home is sold. They publicized the program by putting flyers in senior centers, community centers and other places where people gather. So check your local newspaper, watch bulletin boards at local centers and libraries and even grocery stores. There could be a similar program happening near you, and the sooner you find it the better your chances of getting in.
Here is an example of another type of non-profit that helps seniors and the disabled with home repairs. In San Mateo County, along the coast in the area of Half Moon Bay, is a group called Senior Coastsiders. They get their money mostly from donations and just under 40% from government sources. They recruit not only financial contributions but also repair help from volunteers. So whether you need repairs or you'd like to offer a service to others in need, groups like this one could be a great resource for you. The government funds they receive come from the county's Aging and Adult Services agency and the Housing and Community Services department. Those types of agencies exist in just about every county so that would be a good place to start doing a search in your own area.
Repairs by Habitat for Humanity
You have probably heard of Habitat for Humanity. It is a Christian non-profit organization that works to help all people have a decent place to live. Most often you hear of them building houses for people. Working with affiliates throughout the U.S. they have helped almost seven million people to have better shelter. But their work is not confined to building new homes. They and their local partner organizations also do critical home repairs for low income households. You may have some of their affiliates in your local area. Do an internet search using the name of your town or county and Habitat for Humanity to see if there is one (or more) near you.
Appliance and Electronics Repair Help Are broken appliances (including tv’s, computers and other electronics) part of your problem? If so you may feel stuck because you can’t afford professional repairs and you don’t have any user manual or guide to troubleshooting. You are not alone! Some believe companies are purposely making things obsolete by failing to provide detailed info so you can’t fix them yourself. But there are ways around that! There are a number of companies that provide information and instructions so you can repair broken, out of warranty gadgets yourself — and save the expense of paying for repairs or for buying a new item. Try fixya.com where people share questions and answers for more than19 million products! If you’ve cracked your phone screen check out icracked.com — they will send out repair technicians or sell you a repair kit so you can do it yourself. On repair clinic.com you can get replacement parts as well as thousands of free videos that show you how to be the fix-it person. Sounds like a great alternative to throwing it out or doing without. There are also free local repair clinics run by some organizations — search your town or county to see if there’s one near you.
News: Banks Could Provide an Answer! Though true grants for home repair can be tough to find they do occasionally happen! Many of these grants are also local in nature and can provide clues as to how you might find one near you. For example: In February 2015, a woman in Houston who was living on disability with a serious disease was desperate to get some repairs done to her home. The foundation was failing and the house was dangerous to live in. A senior with a fixed income and high healthcare costs, she could not afford the repairs and was unable to qualify for a loan. Fortunately she found out about a special program called SNAP, sponsored by a local bank. (This is not the federal SNAP program previously known as Food Stamps, but an independent Special Needs Assistance Program). With the help of Rebuilding Together Houston she was able to file the application and won a $4300 SNAP grant. She used it to hire a contractor to fix the foundation and install new subflooring and flooring in multiple rooms.
Such a program could exist near you! Rebuilding Together is a national organization which helps folks make necessary repairs, particularly when they are needed for health and safety. Do an internet search on that name along with your city, county or state to find one near you. If they can’t help you they might be able to refer you to someone who can. Also contact local banks, you never know when they may be coming up with a program just like the one described here!
HELOC or Credit Cards If you have some equity in your house you might want to consider getting a HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit. It's not free help for sure but at least it carries a low interest rate since your house is your collateral. And you only pay interest on what you actually use. Credit Cards are of course another option…but be careful about running up lots of debt if you don't pay much off each month…
HUD: The Department of Housing and Urban Development awards grants for home repairs each year by giving money to states and local agencies. A chunk of that money typically goes to the local Area Agencies on Aging. These agencies help senior citizens with a variety of needs including home repair, often for free. Awards depend on the applicant's income and some are free while others are charged on a sliding scale. To find out what's available near you just do a search for your city or county along with the term Area Agency on Aging.
NeighborWorks is a non-profit created by Congress to build community and help homeowners in low-income and middle class categories. Though they do not provide loans themselves, they maintain a network of organizations that do. Try doing an internet search for “neighbor works” and your state or zip code, or go to their website atnw.org and click on “Find a NeighborWorks Organization.”
Community Development Financial Institutions: these organizations are not well known but they are located in a lot of areas in the U.S. They sometimes provide financial aid as well as advice and direction about repairing your home. Search for one using the name of your state or city plus “community development financial institution.”
Public Utilities: While help is available many people are totally unaware of what is out there. Before you tackle government websites and interviews with local agencies, one place to start is with your local utility company. Many of them offer grants for making repairs to your home, specifically tied to replacing or upgrading appliances which are not energy-efficient and getting rid of older windows that do a poor job protecting your home from outside temperatures. In addition, a federal program called the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was created to assist low-income households with their utility bills. It conducts this program throughout the U.S. and you can simply do a web search or check your phone book to find the nearest office or central phone number to call for assistance.
Non-Profits: Probably the best known is an organization called “Rebuilding Together.” They offer assistance to those living at poverty level, and their focus is on making repairs to homes. Search for one in your area using the name of your city or star and “Rebuilding Together.” Sometimes you can also find similar programs conducted by volunteer groups at churches, so it's worth checking with larger churches in your area even if you are not a member.
HUD/FHA at the Local Level: The next local place to look is at your state's housing agencies. A web search, this time using the terms “Housing Agency” and your state’s name, will provide contact information for the agency nearest you. These folks have counselors trained to help you at little or no cost, and they deal both with the homeless and with those working to get by on lower than average incomes. You can find more information about the federal government’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs and how to find an office near you in our article about Government Grants To Purchase A Home. When you make your first contact, be sure to ask questions about what is available and what the requirements for eligibility are so you know whether you should spend time making an application. And for more information about other government programs regarding home repairs, see our latest article Home Repair Help.
Some of the “grants” for home repairs are actually low interest loans. If you can afford to make the payment on the small loans then you should probably go for them as they will be subsidized and have lower interest rates than you will find elsewhere. Within your state, check for Home Rehabilitation and Repair programs. These programs are made to help people with repair jobs which will bring their homes up to local housing standards and/or upgrade the home’s comfort or safety. Typically to be eligible you must have an income that is lower than 80% of the average income in your area.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program offers programs and assistance for seniors (over 62 years of age) who live in very rural areas. These are called Rural Repair and Rehabilitation Loans and Grants. These are aimed at very low income households who need to make repairs for health and safety reasons. The maximum amount for a loan is $20,000 and for a grant, $7500. There are other requirements and restrictions which are spelled out quite succinctly on the USDA Rural Development website. Also earn more about these loans and grants at Home Improvement Grants.