If you are at a loss on how to finance a much-needed repair or remodeling project at your home, you might consider home improvement grants. Unlike mortgages, most home improvement grants don’t require a credit check and need not to be paid back unless you sell the home before a specified amount of time passes. Although not everyone qualifies for all home improvement grant, you are eligible for individual grants. In this article, we explore the world of home remodeling grants and hopefully help you discover grant programs you may qualify for.
Home Improvement Grants: How It Works
A grant is a form of financial help in which the recipient is not required to repay. Most home improvement grants are issued by the government at the local, state, and federal levels. There are also grants from private nonprofits and other companies.
Why the Government Offers Home Improvement Grants
The government gives grants to people to make a home more livable, energy efficient, or to make it accessible to a disabled person. In some places, there are grant programs that give out funds to people to restore historic homes or to do much-needed emergency repairs. Repairs that are considered necessary include replacements for the furnace and the hot water system.
Some home improvement grants are available in specific worn-down areas where the local government authorities want to give residents an incentive to revitalize the neighborhood. Regardless of the home improvement grants, you are unlikely to find a grant which is given to a householder to make aesthetic changes, so don’t expect to be approved for a spa or outdoor kitchen upgrade. It is therefore essential that applicants for home improvement grants make sure that the program is adding value to the home or covering an emergency repair to maximize the chances of approval.
How to Apply for Home Improvement Grants
The process of applying for a home improvement grant defers naturally according to the grant and the administering authority. In most cases, you will need to fill out application forms and attach documents.
How to Find What Available Grants in Your Area
You can find out information about home improvement grants that are available locally by contacting the local government office. The local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office or the HUD website are also potential sources of information on grants. Other people have got success by contacting the National Residential Improvement Association (NRIA).
You may be required to fill out a questionnaire to find out what type of home improvement grants you qualify for. For most grants, you must be able to show that you need to make the renovation and you cannot afford to pay for it. This is where a bona fide estimate of the work will come in handy.
Why You Need a Cost Estimate
It is essential to get an accurate cost estimate for any project before you apply for a grant. The estimate can also help you determine whether you can cover any other expenses the grant may not cover that. It is recommended to get estimates from at least two reputable companies.
Documents You May Need to Apply for a Grant
Never make the mistake of renovating first and then applying for a grant to cover the renovation since funding is usually not available for past renovations. The exact documents you need to apply for a grant vary depending on the specific grant.
You will likely be required to reveal your personal financial information and details about the property. You may be required to have information on the home mortgage, your other assets, employment status, and income. Use photocopies of the documents if possible or get backup copies such that you don’t lose your documents in case the agency loses them.
Apply for multiple grants to maximize your chances of getting funds. It is unlikely that you will get all the money you need for a project from one grant, so be prepared to cover the extra expenses.
Fill in the application forms and file them together with all the needed paperwork. Make sure you submit the document before the deadline. Keep in mind that, for most programs, at least one inspection will be made by officials before disbursing the funds. Don’t despair when you don’t get a reply promptly. Government programs usually take weeks or months, so be prepared to wait it out.
Government Programs That Pay You to Remodel Your Home
There is a vast variety of government programs that give out grants for home remodeling. Some of them are:
Property Tax Exemptions
Property tax exemption programs enable applicants to get total or partial exemptions from property taxes when remodeling the home. Different jurisdictions have different eligibility requirements but, in most places, anyone can qualify for this exemption. These exemptions are usually offered at the state level, and you can contact the county or town tax assessors for details.
Exemptions may be offered on the materials of permanent property improvements that increase value to the home. It is worth noting that relief from such exemptions is temporary and typically only applies for the length of the remodeling project.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grants for Seniors
The USDA under its Rural Development arm gives out home improvement grants to people over 62 years old and cannot get affordable credit from other sources. The applicant must own and occupy the home in question to qualify for this grant. The department gives a lifetime maximum of $7,500 to successful applicants. The applicant is not allowed to use the money for cosmetic improvements but rather to make the home more handicap-accessible and to reduce safety and health hazards.
HOME Investment Partnership Program
This program is under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This grant helps people to make their homes handicap-accessible, protect homes against weather, and for emergency repairs. In some instances, this grant may also be used to cover extra interest payments for a home repair loan which is being paid alongside a mortgage.
Several states offer housing rehabilitation programs to help homeowners upgrade their properties to meet the applicable building standards. This home improvement grant may be given for renovation of the whole house or specific parts or systems of the house.
Examples of such program included the Housing Rehabilitation Program in Maryland. Eligibility requirements differ depending on the location, income status of the applicants, and the needs of the home. You can usually access these programs through the state’s department of housing.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This program was designed to assist eligible low-income individuals and households to pay their heating or cooling bills and help during times of energy crises. The program also provides low-cost home improvement grants known as weatherization.
These improvements should be able to make the home more energy efficient or lower the utility bills. This program does not fund people who need help with sewer or water bills. Eligibility requirements for this program vary by state but the program maximum income requirements for the household which vary according to the size of the family. For example, a family of four should have a maximum income of about $36,450 to qualify for this grant.
Housing Grant for Disabled Veterans
This program gives grants to service members and veterans with specific disabilities (obtained in service) to buy or construct adapted homes or to remodel existing homes to accommodate their disability. The program gives out two types of grants: the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant. The SAH grant is intended to help veterans with specific disabilities to live independent lives in a “barrier-free” environment.
The grant can be used to acquire land, construct, and remodel an existing home to a suitable home for the disability. The grant can also be used to pay a mortgage for an adopted home. An SHA grant can be used to purchase or remodel a home for a family member in which a veteran lives. These programs have limits, and the current maximum for 2019 for SAH grants per person is $85,645 while the one for SHA is $17,130
The Housing Improvement Program (HIP)
This program is administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and some Indian tribes. The program aims to reduce the number of substandard Indian-owned houses owned by low-income Indians living in tribal areas. This program is only available to American Indians, or Alaska natives and the income levels of the applicants must not be over 125 percent of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) poverty guidelines. Qualified applicants apply through BIA.
Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
This program helps low-income households by giving them grants from weatherization services. The Department of Energy (DOE) explains that about 20-30 million U.S. families are eligible for weatherization services and the department prefers people who over 60 years of age, families with a member with a disability, or families with children.
Services offered include improvements for heating and cooling systems, electrical systems, and some appliances. This program is run by the Department of Energy (DOE), but applications are through the home state’s weatherization agency.
Many Americans are not aware that they qualify for home improvement grants. All it takes is to find out eligibility is to check with HUD, NRIA, or the local county office. The next time you have a home improvement, be sure to check if you qualify for a grant because you may stand to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by getting a grant.