Government Grants For Home Improvements

Key takeaways

  • Free home repair grants can give you money to improve your house — but they usually come with strict eligibility requirements.
  • These grants for home improvements often come from federal or state agencies.
  • You can only use a grant for home renovations that make your property safer or more accessible, not for cosmetic improvements.

If your home needs repairs to remove health or safety hazards, you might look into grants for home improvements, also called home repair grants. Not everyone qualifies for these grants, and most have strict criteria that you must meet. However, if you do qualify, they are a great source of financing for your home improvement project.

What are home improvement grants for homeowners?

A grant is a form of financial aid that the recipient does not have to repay. Federal, state and local governments, along with other organizations, issue grants to those who qualify.

But there are limits to how you can use these free home repair grants. You cannot use the funds to pay for cosmetic home improvements. Instead, you must use the money to repair health and safety hazards or make the home more handicap-accessible.

Since tax revenues fund government-backed grants for home improvements, they frequently have strict rules and auditing procedures. Many grants are competitive; even if you qualify for a grant, you may not necessarily receive it. To boost your likelihood of getting the grant, you should apply for it as soon as possible.

Types of home improvement grants

  • The Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) – This HUD program provides grants to state and local governments that can be used to create affordable housing options for low-income households. State or local governments that receive HOME funds distribute the money to individuals in the form of grants, direct loans, loan guarantees or other types of financial support. Eligibility requirements include meeting home income limits set by HUD.
  • Section 504 Home Repair Program – This program provides loans and grants to low-income and elderly homeowners, respectively, to help cover the cost of repairing or modernizing their single-family home. To qualify, you must be a homeowner and live in the home. In addition, you must be unable to qualify for affordable funding options elsewhere, and you must meet income requirements. To qualify for grants, you must be at least 62 years old.
  • Native American Housing Improvement Program – This program offers up to $60,000 for repairs or renovations to help improve properties and bring them up to code. To qualify, you must be a member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or an Alaska native. Additional requirements include living in an approved tribal service area and not having an income that exceeds 150 percent of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Poverty Guidelines. Your current housing must also be substandard under program guidelines, and you must be unable to obtain housing assistance elsewhere.
  • Area Agency On Aging – This program, administered through state governments, helps senior citizens improve their properties to make them more livable. Requirements and availability of funds vary by state and county. To find out more, search for your local program.

Home improvement grants for veterans

  • VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant – Designed for veterans who have service-connected disabilities, the SAH grant provides support for building, remodeling or purchasing an adapted home. The maximum amount of funding available through this grant for 2024 is $117,014. To be eligible, you must have a service-related disability.
  • VA Special Home Adaptation (SHA) Grant – If you have a qualifying service-related disability, you may be able to get this grant to help you buy, build or change your permanent home. In 2024, the maximum amount available per grant recipient is $23,444.
  • VA Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant – These grants are available to veterans who are temporarily living in a family member’s home that requires modifications to meet their needs. To qualify for this funding, you must be eligible to receive the SAH grant or the SHA grant. In addition, you must be temporarily living in a family member’s home.

How to apply for home improvement grants

You can apply for federal home improvement grants for homeowners by contacting your local HUD office or visiting its website. HUD can let you know what grants are available in your area.

The National Residential Improvement Association (NRIA) can also help you find free home repair grants. You have to fill out a questionnaire to see what types of financial aid you qualify for.

Doing research into locally available grants might turn up other options, too. Any grants you find should lay out the application process for you.

When applying for grants for home improvements, be prepared to provide a variety of personal information and documentation. Many grant programs base eligibility on your household income, so have documentation regarding annual income ready to share.

Documentation requirements also vary by grant program. For instance, some grants for home renovations may require documentation regarding disabilities, while others require confirmation that you are a member of a recognized American Indian tribe. Other programs require proof of assets and employment.

How to qualify for home improvement grants

The qualifications for home improvement grants are specific to each grant but are usually very strict.

For example, to qualify for HUD’s HOME Program, the purchase price or after-rehabilitation value of the home cannot exceed 95 percent of the median purchase price in the area for a single-family dwelling. HUD also determines income limits.

To qualify for a VA TRA Grant, you must currently own your home or will in the near future, and you must have a qualifying service-related disability. Some examples of qualifying disabilities include loss of vision in both eyes, loss of limbs and certain severe burns. Each fiscal year, only 120 veterans and service members can qualify for a VA TRA Grant based on the loss of one extremity following September 11, 2001.

Check the specific eligibility guidelines for the grant you want to apply for to see if you qualify.

What other forms of financial assistance are available for home improvements?

If you’re not eligible for home improvement grants for homeowners but still can’t afford to make the repairs on your own, consider these alternatives:

  • Low-cost loans: Some organizations, such as the USDA and HUD, also offer affordable loans to lower-income homeowners. Keep in mind, unlike grants, you’ll need to repay the loan over time.
  • Tax credits: You can use tax deductions in home improvement costs as a credit against taxes when you sell your home or if you work from your home and make repairs to your home office. However, they are not normally deductible as personal expenses.
  • Cash-out refinance: A cash-out refinance lets you turn some of your home equity into cash that you can use for other purposes, including home improvements. In some cases, the interest on these loans is tax-deductible if used for a capital home improvement. Another perk is that cash-out refinance rates are usually lower than rates for other types of loans. Just keep in mind that you’ll be increasing your mortgage balance and potentially the length of your loan term.
  • Weatherization Assistance Programs: Administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), these grants help low-income households increase their home’s energy efficiency. State and local governments distribute the funds. To apply, contact your state weatherization agency; an interactive map with contact information for each state agency is available on the DOE website. Households at or below 200 percent of the poverty income guidelines are eligible for weatherization services. Additionally, households receiving Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children may also qualify.

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