An Introduction to Home Repair Grants

2012hpwes incentives

What's a Home Repair Grant?

A home repair grant is a sum of money given to a homeowner to pay for repairs that may not get fixed otherwise. The grants are generally given for repairs that are necessary to make the house safe for living, or to improve its energy efficiency. Home repair grants will typically cover upgrades like bringing the electrical wiring up to code, repairing or replacing the septic system, or energy saving upgrades like adding insulation or storm windows. Home repair grants generally won't cover cosmetic or unnecessary work such as painting, landscaping or room additions.

Who Provides Home Repair Grants?

Home repair grants are available through the federal government (through the United States Department of Agriculture), many states and communities. While it may seem challenging to find out about the various home repair grants that are available, a little Internet searching can go a long way. Or contact your bank or other lending institution. They are familiar with home repair loans and grants, and should be able to recommend appropriate granting agencies.

If you have a home-related emergency that requires immediate attention, such as a broken furnace or water issues, contact your municipality. Local communities often give emergency grants for pressing needs.

Who Qualifies for a Home Repair Grant?

Home repair grants are generally reserved for people who can't qualify for a personal loan or a home equity line of credit due to low income, bad credit history, age or other factors. Where other types of credit aren't available, a home repair grant can prevent the home from falling into a derelict state of disrepair.

To qualify for a home repair grant, you'll need to show proof of ownership of the house and proof of income. Grants will almost always stipulate that the work must be completed by a licensed contractor, along with various requirements unique to each granting agency or home repair grant.

What if I Don't Qualify for a Home Repair Grant?

If you've researched the home repair grants available and you don't qualify for any of them, don't despair. Many of the agencies that offer home repair grants also offer low interest loans for home repairs. Similar to home repair grants and energy efficient mortgages, these loans will have restrictions on the types of repairs that can be done with the money. However, the qualifying process for one of these loans is often less rigorous than for a home equity line of credit from a bank or other lending institution.

Will My Home Repair Be Covered by a Home Repair Grant?

While home repair grants cover many types of home upgrades, the specific granting agency or type of grant will determine whether your project is covered.

Federal Government Grants

Home repair grants by the federal government generally have strict guidelines. Homes that have safety concerns - such as electrical wiring that's not up to code, or structural issues - are considered priorities for funding. Federal home repair grants may also pay for upgrades to improve the home's energy efficiency, such as sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and repairing or replacing windows and exterior doors. Federal grants won't pay for cosmetic changes like kitchen remodeling or adding closets, or for repairs on homes which may not be in livable condition even after the repairs were completed.

State and Local Government Grants

There are different qualifying standards for state and community level grants, and these standards can vary considerably. Some grants have standards similar to those for federal home improvement grants, and other grants are given for a particular purpose, such as improving energy efficiency, beautification, or preservation (e.g. for historical structures or to protect the environment). While the qualification standards for these grants may still be rigorous, if your needs are covered by their mandate you can access free money for your project.

Some state and local community grants are available for certain types of recipients, such as first time homeowners or the elderly. These grants may impose fewer restrictions on the types of home improvements that are covered by the grant. But when you're applying for any grant, make sure your request is for improvements that are covered by the grant making organization.

Home Repair Grants Benefit Homeowners and Community

If the stipulations associated with home repair grants seem to put undue restrictions on the improvements you can make to your home, remember the purpose of the grants - to allow those who can't afford to make the repairs to live in a safer, more comfortable home. The grants also help increase the property value, which benefits the homeowner directly, while increasing the value of the neighborhood.


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