Home Improvement Grants: Eligibility & Availability

There is no correct answer to who is eligible for free government home improvement grants, as the available programs have varying criteria and different objectives.

Federal agencies promote energy efficiency, health, and safety while redistributing wealth from wealthy taxpayers to needy families. Learn the qualifying standards to increase approval odds.

Several population groups are more likely to be eligible than others. Follow along as we break down the approval advantages and apply the learnings to your situation.

Finally, scour a comprehensive listing of available programs broken down by objective and discover when and how to apply for benefits.

Government Home Improvement Grant: Objectives

Before answering who qualifies for free home improvement grants, we must address what the federal government is trying to accomplish through these programs. The proposed renovation must meet at least one project and equity goal.

Project Goals

The families eligible for home improvement grants select projects that meet government standards for energy efficiency or health and safety.

Home renovation loans with bad credit and no equity are the primary alternatives for renovations outside these parameters. You must pay the money back with interest.

Energy Efficiency

Many government home remodeling grants seek to promote energy efficiency to protect the environment. Therefore, your proposed project must reduce the use of oil, gas, or electricity by specified amounts.

Each program uses different energy-efficiency measurements, including a savings-to-investment ratio (SIR), Predicted Energy Savings, and other metrics. Some projects will score more highly than others in this area.

Health & Safety

Other government home renovation grants address health and safety issues to prevent costly medical problems and hospitalizations before they happen. For example, slippery surfaces, fire hazards, and poor indoor air quality are areas of concern.

Therefore, your proposed renovation might need to correct one of these health hazards to qualify. Some of these projects are likely to rank well on this criteria.

Equity Goals

Many government home improvement grants seek to foster equity, utilizing means testing and previous enrollment in other entitlement programs as qualifying standards. 

Means Testing

Many government home renovation grants are means tested, using the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), Area Median Income (AMI), and other equity-related measures that matrix two components.

  1. Projected Modified Adjusted Gross Income: Do not overstate
  2. Number of qualifying household members: Do not understate
Projected Income

Estimate your expected income you will file on your taxes next April, not what you earned in the past. This nuance is especially critical for families coping with unemployment or the onset of a disability (temporary or permanent).

MAGI

Communicate the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) for the household, not the total earnings from everyone in your family. MAGI excludes many sources.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Gifts of cash
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Veterans’ disability payments
  • Child Tax Credit checks
Household Size

Report every qualified household member, including yourself, your spouse, and your tax dependents. The bigger the number, the better your qualification odds will be. Do not omit any viable dependents.

  • Adopted or foster children
  • Children under 21 you take care of
  • Dependent parents and siblings

Previous Enrollment

Many government home remodeling grants foster equity by making it easier for specific disadvantaged people to qualify. Several programs waive the means testing requirements noted above for applicants already enrolled in other entitlements.

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Section 8 Housing Vouchers
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Who is Eligible for Government Home Improvement Grants

There is no universal answer to who is eligible for free government home improvement grants, as many agencies offer programs with slightly different means-testing benchmarks. Draw inspiration from these examples to boost your approval odds.

Low-Income

Low-income families are most likely eligible for home improvement grants because the government prioritizes equity and uses means testing in the standards for many programs. See the section above for more details.

Free home repair for low-income families expands opportunities, as many non-government entities target help for impoverished households. You might find non-profit organizations, churches, and outreach ministries willing to lend a hand.

Senior Citizens

Senior citizens are often eligible for free home improvement benefits when they satisfy the low-income family requirements. Social Security retirement benefits are sometimes inadequate, especially for elderly adults with insufficient IRA balances.

Free home repair for senior citizens includes expanded opportunities. Programs from non-profits, churches, outreach ministries, and other government benefits might apply or reduce other expenses.

  • USDA Section 504 Home Repair Program ($10,000 Grant)
  • Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI)
  • The Medicare Savings Program (MSP)

Disabled Homeowners

Homeowners with disabilities often qualify for free home improvement grants because they meet the low-income family requirements or have already enrolled in another government benefit.

Free home repair for the disabled population might be worth exploring, as SSDI recipients do not automatically make the cut. Also, projects that do not address energy efficiency or health and safety concerns might require help from charities or churches. 

  • Disabled homeowners receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have already met the means-testing requirements for many programs.
  • Disabled individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) meet the benchmarks if their household income falls below the means testing limit, given their household size.

Disabled Veterans

Military veterans with service-related disabilities qualify for free home improvement benefits and the opportunities noted in the section above. The Veterans Administration offers several programs unique to this brave group of patriots.

Apply for service disability grants through the VA to determine eligibility.

  • Specially Adapted Housing (SAH)
  • Special Housing Adaptation (SHA)
  • Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA)
  • Home Improvement and Structural Alterations (HISA)

Single Mothers

Single mothers frequently satisfy free government home improvement requirements when they meet the low-income family standards. Women raising young children alone often have difficulty holding down a full-time job.  

Several hardship grants for single mothers translate into automatic approval of the means testing requirement. As noted above, previous enrollment in other benefit programs allows applicants to skip this qualifying step.

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Section 8 Housing Vouchers
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Foster Parents

Foster parents are more likely to be eligible for home improvement grants because both components in the means-testing conditions favor their unique situations.

  • Foster children count as dependents when filing federal income taxes, meaning parents can report them as household members. Larger households are more likely to meet the income limits established by the specific programs.
  • Monthly subsidies to foster parents represent non-taxable payments, meaning the extra money does not count towards the Modified Adjusted Income (MAGI) reported when applying for benefits.

Cancer Patients

Cancer patients often qualify for free home improvement grants because they meet the low-income family requirements, have already enrolled in a related program, and have an acute health and safety need.

  • Providers can deny cancer treatment without insurance, so many patients enroll in Medicaid, making them automatically eligible for several government programs.
  • Many cancer patients must stop working, meaning they rely on disability benefits to replace their earning power. They often meet the low-income means testing requirements.
  • Cancer patients have weakened immune systems after debilitating rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, meaning they have a pre-existing condition that may spur upgrades. For instance, poor air quality, mold, and asthma triggers might require remediation. 

Autistic Child

Parents raising an autistic child have two unique avenues for boosting eligibility odds for specific home improvement grants from the government. They can address health and safety concerns or take advantage of other benefits.

Move to a state that pays parents to care for disabled children. The additional resources deposited into your banking account could make it easier to afford modifications.

Children with autism require specific adaptations to keep them safe at home. Acceptable projects might include the following health and safety-related adaptations.

  • Removal of fluorescent lighting and replacement with softer LED
  • Upgrading blinds and shades to control outdoor light intensity
  • Install surveillance technologies to alleviate intrusion anxiety
  • Mount soundproof panels and curtains to minimize noises
  • Deploy alarm systems and locks to prevent wandering

Disaster Victims

Natural disaster victims frequently meet free home improvement benefits requirements because two additional government programs might contribute assistance.

Free roof replacement grants might be available to disaster victims if high hurricane winds or wildfire flames destroyed shingles, sheathing material, rafters, etc. Two programs might assist.

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Single Family Housing Rural Disaster Home Repair (USDA)

High-Income

Households with higher incomes are eligible for different government home improvement grants because they pay federal income taxes, whereas most other recipients do not. The IRS supports money-saving tax credits (energy efficiency) and medical expense deductions (health & safety) with a hidden benefit.

Rigid flooring financing with no credit check is possible via a Flexible Spending Account when the project is medically necessary. Employers must reimburse qualifying expenses immediately, giving the employee up to 52 weeks to repay the loan using pre-tax payroll deductions.

For instance, a moldy, dusty, and mite-harboring rug might exacerbate breathing issues for a family member with asthma. Installing hygienic rigid flooring could alleviate the symptoms. 

School Teachers

Finally, school teachers are the least likely group to qualify for free home improvement because they fall into the middle ground, and no unique government benefits seem to exist.

Teachers are middle-income wage earners. They make too much to pass the means-testing requirements and might earn too little for IRS tax credits and medical expense deductions. However, educators who are single mothers, foster parents, cancer patients, disaster victims, or have an autistic child might have better approval odds.

The National Education Association lists grant opportunities for teachers, but the program objectives revolve around cultivating learning outcomes, not residences.

  • Enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Master of essential academic content
  • Communication and collaboration skills

Available Government Home Improvement Grants

The government agency administering each home improvement grant determines eligibility for each applicant and project. Scan this listing of available opportunities organized by the objective to find programs matching your needs and profile.

The federal money often flows to states where pertinent agencies implement the benefits. Therefore, as these related pages outline, you must apply at a local endpoint.

General Purpose

At least two home improvement grants are available to address general-purpose renovations. Given their non-specific nature, the eligibility requirements are strictest, and the application points are hardest to find.

ProgramMeans TestApplication Point
HUD Home Investment Partnership Program30% of AMIState agencies and local non-profit organizations
BAI Housing Improvement Program150% of FPLState Indian Tribal Servicing office 
USDA Housing PreservationNot ApplicableState agencies, non-profits, tribal offices

Energy-Efficiency

Multiple home improvement grants for energy efficiency are available (or will be soon) from various government agencies. The project must meet specified measurable standards to qualify.

ProgramMeans TestEnergy CriteriaApplication Point
DOE Weatherization Assistance Program200% of FPLMeet Savings-to-Investment RatioLocal certified contractor
HHS Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program150% of FPL Poverty Level

60% of State Median Income  
Determined at the state levelLocal utility provider (gas or electric)
DOE Home Energy Rebates*150% of AMI: covers up to 80% of costs

Above 150% AMI: covers up to 50% of costs
Predicted to save at least 20% of the home’s energy useTo be determined by each state participating
DOE Home High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebates*80% of AMI: covers up to 100% of costs

150% of AMI: covers up to 50% of costs
Qualified electrification projects as listedPoint of Sale as determined by states participating
EPA Energy Star RebatesNot ApplicableMeet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the U.S. EPAPoint of Sale
IRS Home Energy Tax CreditsFilers with a tax liabilityRequirements detailed on energy.govComplete IRS Form 5695

* The Inflation Reduction Act enacted and funded both programs. However, at publication time, the states have yet to establish systems supporting the effort. Delay any suitable projects until your state is ready. 

Health & Safety

Several home improvement grants are available to address health and safety issues. You may need a signed letter from your physician to establish medical necessity, as the government lacks concrete standards to measure when qualifying recipients.

ProgramMeans TestHealth CriteriaApplication Point
USDA Section 504Very Low Income by County

Over age 62Reside in a designated rural area  
Remove health and safety hazards.Local Rural Development office
VA Home Improvements and Structural AlterationsHave a service-connected disabilityMedically justified given the disabilityComplete VA Form 10-0103 and submit
IRS Medical Expense DeductionsHave a tax liabilityItemize deductions

Medical expenses exceed 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income  
Payments for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease or treatments affecting any structure or function of the bodyComplete Schedule A
IRS Flexible Spending AccountHave a tax liabilitySame as aboveEnroll at work
IRS Health Savings AccountHave a tax liabilitySame as aboveEnroll at work or through Healthcare.gov

Disaster Assistance

At least two home improvement grants are available from government agencies to help homeowners victimized by natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, tornados, landslides, mudslides, etc.

ProgramMeans TestDisaster CriteriaApplication Point
Federal Emergency Management AgencyProject costs exceed homeowner insurance claim paymentYour area has been declared for individual assistanceComplete the online form at disaster.gov
USDA Single Family Housing Rural Disaster Home RepairLocated in an eligible rural area

Have an adjusted household income within the very-low- and low-income limit  
Presidentially declared disaster in your countyContact the USDA office in your state

Water Conservation

Finally, at least one government home improvement grant is available to help homeowners conserve water by lowering the use of precious H2O in bathtubs, showers, faucets, toilets, sprinkler systems, etc.

ProgramMeans TestConservartion CriteriaApplication Point
EPA WaterSense RebatesNot applicableWaterSense labeled productsContact your local water provider directly