Your home is your most valuable asset and your single largest investment. However, it can suffer damage and deteriorate over time. Storm damage, flooding, sun exposure, poor-quality building materials –these are just a few of the things that can affect your home and its ability to shelter you and your family over the years. Thankfully, there are several grant programs that offer the ability to fix up your home and repair damage.
Single Family Housing Repair Grants
Offered by the USDA, the 504 Home Repair Program includes both loans and grants. Because loans must be repaid, we have only included information on the grant aspect.
•What Does It Do?
These grants are designed to help seniors repair their homes and remove safety and health hazards. Note that 504 loans are much more versatile and can be used to repair, improve, and even modernize homes. However, loans require repayment of the principle plus interest.
•Who Is Eligible?
In order to qualify for this grant program, you must be 62 or older, own the home, and occupy it as your full time residence. You must also be able to prove that you cannot repay a loan, and that you cannot afford credit through any other program. You must also have a family income below 50% of your area’s median income. Note that only grants require you to be 62 or older –loans can be made to any age homeowner, but they require repayment.
Are There Limitations on Fund Usage?
Unlike 504 Home Repair loans, grants have very stringent limitations on their usage. They are only able to be used to remove health and safety hazards from the home. This includes but is not limited to repairing stairs, adding handrails, replacing deteriorating flooring, and more. Note that you will need to prove that the funds were put to use in a qualifying repair/replacement.
•How Much Is Available in Grants?
504 grants have a lifetime limit of $7,500 per household. However, they can be combined with loans to receive up to $27,500.
•What Are the Limitations and Terms?
With 504 grants, you are limited to $7,500 per property for the entire duration of your ownership. Note that if the property is sold within three years of the grant being awarded, the entire amount must be repaid, so this program is not well-suited for those who intend to sell soon for any reason (including death of the owner). Note that if your financial situation warrants it, the USDA may require that you take out a combination of a loan and a grant, and that you repay the loan portion.
•How Do You Apply for This Grant?
The only way to apply for this grant is through your local USDA/Rural Development office in person. You can find a full list of state locations here. The approval time vary by area and you will need to provide proof of homeownership and income at the time you file the application. The USDA loan/grant specialist you work with will be able to help you complete the application and explain all the required paperwork. Applications are accepted all year, as well, unlike many other grant programs.