For many seniors, finding the money to fix up a home can be a substantial burden. Many are retired and on fixed income. While the income may have slowed, the expenses often do not. In some cases, home improvement grants are available for seniors. These grants can help pay for at least a portion of the repair, significantly lowering the overall cost of the repair.
Home improvement grants for seniors come in a couple of different ways. Though most are ultimately paid for by a government agency, those agencies may work through private companies to administer the programs. For example, a utility company may offer improvements for energy efficient projects such as new appliances or windows. Though the money may come from the government, it is the private entity that runs it.
While some grants may not be exclusive to seniors, many seniors may choose to take advantage of them. Other grants, however, are exclusive to seniors. For example, the USDA Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation program is available to seniors in certain areas whose income is less than half that of the local area. Grants are available up to $7,500. (See Resource 1)
Seniors interested in grants should make sure to understand the conditions that come with them. For example, the USDA Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation grant may also require seniors to take out a loan in conjunction with the grant, if they are able to pay. Further, grants usually supplement a repair or purchase, so some out-of-pocket expense is going to be required.
Remember that home improvement grants for seniors can come from many different sources. Local housing authorities would have the most up-to-date information about what is available in a local area. State housing agencies may be able to also provide some information about where to go for more information (see Resources below). Further, local utility companies will also be able to provide information on what they may offer.
Once the grant is provided, it must be used for the original intention. However, once the work is done, a grant never has to be repaid. Therefore, for seniors who will eventually sell their homes, the grant process adds instant value to the property. This is true on virtually any type of project funded by grant money.
Often, programs that are reserved for seniors are not necessarily reserved for those who are retired or 65 or older. For example, the Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation grant is available to those 62 years and older. Further, nearly all grants have some income restrictions.