Federal and state programs have grant money available for repair and improvement of homes owned by those below a certain income level. Federal monies are primarily awarded through state agencies via block grants. Look to your state for grant funding if you live in a urban area. Eligibility depends not only on your income, but your location and the repairs or improvements needed.
Section 504 Rural Housing Loans and Grants
Very low income owner-occupants living in rural areas may apply for federal Section 504 grants for home repair. Loans are also available via this program, and Section 504 grants apply only to specific repairs. These include:
- Improvements and repairs to remove identified safety hazards.
- Remodeling to allow access to disabled owner-occupants or family members.
At the time of publication, the lifetime maximum grant for such improvements or repairs is $7,500. Only owner-occupants aged 62 and up, who are either U.S. citizens or hold permanent resident status, are eligible for grants. Eligible rural areas should not exceed a population of 10,000, although some areas with populations up to 25,000 may be eligible if they are not located within a metropolitan statistical area.
Apply for a Section 504 grant at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office serving your county. You must provide proof of age, income and home ownership. If you sell your property within three years of accepting a grant, it may be "recaptured," meaning you'll be required to return a percentage of it.
Examples of State Grants
Certain states offer home repair and improvement grants to eligible low-income homeowners, often under the auspices of local municipalities, non-profit organizations or government entities. Find out if yours is among them by calling the state departments of housing or human services and visiting their websites. Many states receive home repair grant funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For example, the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has an Urgent Repair Program grant for homeowners meeting the criteria with an income of less than half of the area's median. Eligible recipients include:
- Disabled persons
- Persons age 65 and up
- Single parents
- Households of five members and above
- Children with elevated levels of lead in the blood
Emergency repairs qualifying for the program include septic system failure, rotten flooring and hazardous heating systems. Owner-occupants with disabilities may be eligible for ramp installation and other home modification necessities.
In Washington, D.C., the Department of Housing and Community Development offers the Single Family Residential Rehabilitation Program for low-income seniors and residents with disabilities. Eligible senior citizens may receive a grant of up to $15,000 for roof repair or replacement and gutter work. A grant worth up to $30,000 is available for homeowners with disabilities for accessibility modifications for the home.
The Maine State Housing Authority provides home repair grants and elderly hardship grants for low-income residents. The program pays for home improvements such as:
- Roof and chimney
- Electrical and heating systems
- Siding repair or replacement
- Window and door replacement
- Structural repairs
- Accessibility modification
- Lead paint mitigation
Targeted Area Grants
Federal grant monies are often awarded for targeted areas on a first-come, first-serve basis for eligible homeowners. Check with your local housing officials regarding these grant opportunities. Examples of recent grants include:
- Kansas City, Missouri -- a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank for home repairs in four specific areas of the city. The maximum award per home is $6,000. Only those with incomes "at or below" the HUD very-low income level are eligible.
- Gary, Indiana -- among other local grants for eligible residents, those living in the University Park target area could receive up to $25,000 per home for repairs.