A house is a more than a proverbial roof over your head; it is what you and your family call home. This space is evolving and changing to support the health and happiness of its inhabitants. Home improvement does exist in many forms, and the good news is it’s possible to get grants for such projects.
The US government, through various agencies, offers funds for qualified homeowners to bring their homes up to the standards of energy efficiency, safety, or livability. These grants are free but subject to the terms and conditions set by the granting body. Thus, each applicant has to undergo scrutiny and meet eligibility requirements.
Here are examples of relevant grants for your future home-renovation endeavors.
Section 504 Home Repair Loans and Grants
The Rural Housing Service of the US Department of Agriculture helps very-low-income homeowners in rural areas to improve, modify, or repair their homes. Under the program, the USDA offers (a) loans up to $20,000 and/or (b) $7,500 in lifetime grants. Applicants may be eligible to combine the loan and grant, with a repayment of 20 years.
The grant requirements note that at least one of the loan applicants has to be at least 62 years old and is unable to obtain conventional financing to make repairs and improvements that will do these:
- Remove deemed hazards to health and safety in the home
- Enhance the accessibility and usefulness of the dwelling for family members with disabilities
The grant, however, will have to be repaid if the homeowner sells the property in less than three years of receiving the funding.
Section 306C Water and Waste Disposal Grants
Homeowners may be entitled to Section 306C WWD grants, which are processed like Section 504 grants. The program intends to assist residents in colonias along the US and Mexico border, as defined by the USDA, to use community water and water disposal system. The grants cover only the areas of California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
A qualified individual can receive up to $5,000 under the program. One permitted use of the grant is the construction of a bathroom not exceeding 48 square feet. The proceeds of the grant can also be used to install plumbing fixtures such as a sink, tub, and kitchen sink. Other than the allowed purposes, the guidelines don’t allow using the grants to settle other debts.
VA’s Housing Grants
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wants veterans or service members with service-connected disabilities to live in a barrier-free environment through three types of housing grants:
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants for remodeling veterans’ existing homes so that these can be made suitable for their needs
- Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grants for adapting a veteran’s existing dwelling or that of a family member where the veteran lives
- Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grants to allow veterans who are eligible for SAH or SHA grants to adapt a home of a family member where they are currently staying
Eligible applicants may do renovations involving bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, ramps, walkways, security items, and more. They can receive up to these amounts for the fiscal year 2019:
- SAH grants: $85,645
- SHA grants: $17,130
- TRA grants: $37,597 under SAH and $6,713 under SHA
Alternatives to Grants
Qualifying for grants will help ease your finances when you engage in substantial repairs or modifications to your home.
If you don’t pass the requirements for a home improvement grant, such as any of those above, you can look into these options:
- Tax credits for utilizing renewable energy products in homes from the Department of Energy (DOE).
- Rehabilitation of affordable housing through HOME program under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is the states and local governments that will assist individuals or homeowners.
- Home repair loans backed or guaranteed by the government. These include FHA’s 203K rehabilitation loans and USDA’s Sec. 504 loans.
- Follow this link to find assistance near you or this loan finder for compatible government-backed or direct loans.
Save Money on Home Renovation Costs
Notwithstanding the potential grants and assistance you are entitled to receive, it always pays to look into ways to save money on a home improvement project, be these big or small.
- Set a budget. It is the starting point of any project and a reminder of how much you are allowed to spend. You can come up with a buffer amount for related yet unexpected costs.
- Go DIY or get help from contractors. To avoid costly mistakes, draw the line between what you can and can’t do. Grants require documentation and inspection, so it makes more sense to leave the work to the professionals.
- Buy cost-efficient fixtures. Think long term when choosing furnishings to install or add to the home. For example, you can use a self-contained upflush toilet that uses a minimum amount of water so it helps save on water bills. That model is meant for small bathroom additions with the needs of people with limited physical abilities in mind.
With these insights, be on your way for the next phase of your home makeover project.