The federal government supports a home repair loan program, representing money you must repay with interest.
However, what if you cannot afford these extra monthly payments?
Grants are far superior because you do not have to pay the money back. Those who qualify can get their residence fixed for free!
However, free grants for homeowners for repairs do not come with clear labels and easily identified application processes.
Follow our roadmap designed to help you navigate the labyrinth of government programs that begin at the federal level and trickle down to state, county, and municipal agencies or non-profit organizations.
Federal Grants for Home Repairs
The federal government rarely provides grants directly to homeowners for personal uses such as home repair. Instead, the free money flows to state agencies and non-profit organizations to support their missions.
In other words, you must apply for assistance from the grant recipients.
The federal government aims most home repair grants to benefit low-income homeowners, typically measured by the Federal Poverty Level, which includes two components.
- Countable earnings
- Household size
Free home repair for low-income families includes the grant programs listed below, plus other opportunities unique to impoverished people, such as help from charitable organizations and churches.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides home repair grants for low-income families when the project reduces energy consumption or corrects a health or safety issue.
Apply for WAP benefits at your local state agency. A certified local contractor will conduct an extensive home energy audit and recommend a renovation or replacement provided the Savings-to-Investment Ratio (SIR) exceeds a minimum threshold.
Suppose the project reduces future gas and electricity bills. In that case, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may provide home repair grants to families living below 150% of the federal poverty level.
Apply for LIHEAP through your state agency with an understanding that the program focuses on reducing utility bills. Therefore, LIHEAP-approved projects are more likely to support equipment restoration or upgrades connecting electric outlets and gas pipes.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides home repair grants to states, cities, and counties to help low-income families in densely populated areas.
However, you cannot apply for HUD grants directly as an individual, and the department does not maintain a database of end-point recipients to facilitate the process for families.
You have to apply for help at the ultimate recipient of Community Development Block Grants. We provide links for several larger states in the second section of this article.
The federal government supports free home repair grants earmarked exclusively for senior homeowners. However, these initiatives are very limiting, meaning older adults must expand their search.
Free programs to help seniors with home repairs assist others, such as low-income families. Older adults with limited retirement incomes often fall into this category, giving them more opportunities to fix their residences at no cost.
The Federal USDA Section 504 program only provides home repair grants to senior citizens in designated rural areas. You can use the free money to remove health and safety hazards.
Apply for a Section 504 grant by completing Form RD 410-4. To qualify, you must meet these criteria.
- Reside in an eligible rural area (not metropolitan)
- Be the homeowner and occupy the house
- Be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere
- Have a household income under the county limit
- Be age 62 or older and not be able to repay a repair loan
The federal Medicare program sometimes provides home repair grants for senior citizens enrolled in Part C (Advantage Plans) but not the traditional Parts A, B, or D.
Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI) available through many Medicare Advantage Plans will sometimes include benefits for structural home modifications that minimize risks for future hospitalizations and adverse health events.
The federal government supports free home repair grants earmarked exclusively for disabled homeowners indirectly. Therefore, adults with physical or mental limitations must stretch the definition to get this extra help.
Free home repair for disabled people hinges on their meager Social Security checks, typically leaving them in the low-income category (see above). However, they have three unique opportunities to save money on projects.
- Lenders cannot garnish Social Security Disability benefits or repossess your home should you default on an unsecured personal loan.
- Repairs needed to address health, safety, or accessibility (grab bars, ramps, rigid flooring, etc.) may be tax deductible if your spouse works.
- Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services may cover home safety assessments and modifications supporting activities of daily living.
The government provides home repair grants to victims of presidentially declared disasters through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The free FEMA money helps fix damage not covered by insurance to make the primary residence safe, sanitary, and fit to occupy.
Apply for FEMA assistance online. Enter your zip code to confirm the declared name and date. Have several items handy when completing the application.
- Social Security Number
- Annual household income
- Contact information
- Insurance policy number
- Bank account information
State Grants for Home Repairs
Many federal grants for home repair flow to state agencies that disburse the free money as benefits for qualifying homeowners. For instance, the HUD, WAP, and LIHEAP programs each require families to apply at a local entity.
We compiled a listing of resources for the three large states below using an internet search process that you can easily replicate yourself.
- Home repair assistance (HUD) in (state, city, county)
- Weatherization Assistance (WAP) in (state, city, county)
- Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) in (state, city, county)
California homeowners can utilize the government home repair grants noted above by contacting the appropriate agency in the Golden State.
The California Department of Community Services & Development makes finding help through an online directory easier. Type in your zip code to find a listing of local agencies disbursing grant money across several categories.
- Home energy efficiency (WAP & LIHEAP)
- Migrant & Seasonal Farmworkers
- Native American Indians
Many municipal governments receive HUD home repair grants and establish programs or departments to disburse the funding to low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
- Los Angeles Handyworker Program
- San Diego Housing & Community Development Services
- City of San Jose Housing Department
- San Francisco Senior Home Repair Program
- Oakland Residential Lending Services Unit
- City of Bakersfield’s Home Accessibility Grant Program
- Fresno Owner Occupied Home Repair Program
- Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency
Texas homeowners can use the government home repair grants noted above by contacting the designated agency or department in the Lone Star State.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) maintains an online database of local agencies and organizations, making it easier to find help.
- Choose the type of assistance needed
- Home repair, architectural barrier removal, and rehabilitation
- Utility bill payment help (CEAP, which may include heating and cooling upgrades)
- Weatherization (WAP, which may consist of HVAC, window, roof, and appliance replacement)
- Enter your city or county
- Press the “Find Help” button
Many city and county governments in Texas receive HUD home repair grants, funding programs, or departments that help low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
- Dallas Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization
- Harris County Community Services Department
- City of Houston Housing and Community Development
- San Antonio Neighborhood & Housing Services
- Austin Housing & Planning Department
- Fort Worth Priority Repair Program
Pennsylvania homeowners can use the government home repair grants noted above by contacting the designated recipient in the Keystone State.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funnels federal grant money to local non-profits, county agencies, and utility companies for several initiatives.
- Apply for PA Whole-Home repair assistance by contacting the agency that serves your county and receives funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
- Apply for WAP-enabled home repair help by contacting the local organization that serves your county and receives funding through the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Many city and county governments in Pennsylvania receive HUD community block grants, funding programs that help low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
For instance, Philadelphia supports many such efforts through the city government or in cooperation with partner organizations.
- New Kensington Community Development Corporation
- Philadelphia Home Development Corporation
- City of Philadelphia Government
- Basic Systems Repair Program
- Emergency Home Heater Repairs
- Home Modifications for Seniors Over 60