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You might be able to find a variety of programs that help pay for expensive home repairs. A few people can find a government agency or a charitable organization that is willing to provide grant money or free services to fix up your living space.

However, the government programs have strict qualifying criteria and aim to help only certain groups, such as senior citizens and veterans. Meanwhile, charitable organizations rely on donor funding and have limited resources.

Therefore, most people find that taking out a loan is the only way to fund renovations of their house. Learn the pros and cons of secured versus unsecured financing before taking the plunge.

Home Repair Loan Programs

Home repair loans can help owners who do not qualify for one of the assistance programs outlined below. Many people find that they are ineligible for aid because they earn too much money or do not fit the target group definition. Also, applying for assistance often takes too long to address an emergency call to the plumber, electrician, or HVAC shop.

Request an unsecured personal loan here (Affiliate Link) after researching the different options covered by this article. Having a stable job, a significant income, and a good credit score helps your cause when borrowing money – unlike when applying for aid from the government or a private charity.

Home Improvement Loans

Home improvement loans are the most common option for people who need to restore their house to working order. Private lenders perform the underwriting and funding sometimes free from any government incentive – sometimes not. You can choose between secured and unsecured contracts, which have unique pros and cons.

  • Unsecured loans do not require collateral and represent the best alternative for people with no equity in their homes. The lender approves the request based on your signature promise to pay.
    • Higher interest rates reflect the greater default risk to lenders
    • Shorter repayment terms lead to higher monthly payments
    • Faster approvals based on income and credit score alone
    • You do not lose the house if you default
  • Secured loans require that you have enough equity in a boat, car, or real estate to pledge as collateral. However, you risk losing the asset in foreclosure if you default.
  • Secured contracts can feature lower monthly payments, making them more affordable.
    • Lower interest rates reflect the lower risk to lenders who can repossess the collateral
    • Longer repayment terms translate into smaller principal installments
    • Tax credits for interest charges (if applicable) can lower costs further

Government Loans

Private lenders fulfill government home improvement loans for consumers who might not otherwise qualify to borrow money to fix up their primary residence. The federal government often provides taxpayer-funded insurance that makes it safer for lenders to approve marginal applicants.

These public programs offer several incentives to both lenders and borrowers to get started on remodeling projects that can revitalize communities and or protect the environment.[1]

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) insures Title 1-property improvement loans used to finance alterations of residential and commercial structures
  • The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) 203K permits homebuyers to finance up to $35,000 into their mortgage to improve or upgrade their residence
  • The FHA 203B loan with repair escrow programs helps purchasers to patch-up the damaged areas of a property within 90 days of a real estate closing.
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers the Section 504 program which provides loans to very-low-income owners to restore or modernize their homes
  • Energy Star rebates and tax credits reduce the upfront installations costs of efficient windows, roofing, insulation, heating and ventilation systems, solar panels, appliances, and more
  • Energy-efficient loan modifications can make it more affordable to install upgraded components that save gas and electric costs over time

Free Home Repair Assistance

The federal government also provides free home repair assistance in the form of grants targeting specific groups of marginalized people. Grants are better than loans because you do not have to pay the money back. However, the qualifications are rigorous.

The idea behind these free programs is to provide a home remodeling incentive to owners who cannot qualify to borrow money to pay for the work.

Senior Citizens

The USDA Section 504 program also provides home repair grants for senior citizens. Elderly citizens over the age of 62 who cannot afford to pay back a loan may qualify for this free money. The maximum lifetime grant is $7,500.

Senior citizens could be eligible if they meet these criteria.

  • Be the owner and occupy the house
  • Reside in an eligible rural area
  • Unable to obtain credit elsewhere
  • Have a family income below 50% of the area median
  • Unable to repay a restoration loan

Elderly recipients must use the money to remediate health and safety hazards. These hazards increase the risk of illnesses such as respiratory problems or infections, and accidents such as falls, electric shocks, and more.[2]

Disabled

Home repair grants individuals with disabilities require out-of-the-box thinking. The federal government does not seem to offer free help tailored specifically to people dealing with handicaps. However, other programs can provide limited assistance with certain modifications.

Disabled people can look into these overlooked resources for help with needed home modifications.

  • Health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, and Private plans) sometimes cover medically necessary alterations that keep you from an expensive hospital stay
  • Costs incurred to implement accessibility modifications in your home are an eligible medical deduction on your Federal Income Tax
  • Property insurance plans may cover the costs to fix damage from sudden losses due to wind, hail, fire, lightning, water damage, and freezing
  • Social Security Disability Insurance claims can fund loan payments – but take out a loan for critical emergency needs only

Veterans

Home repair grants for veterans are more readily available. Former members of the armed forces who served our country bravely deserve our respect – and an occasional free service from the taxpayers and other grateful citizens.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers three different housing assistance programs to help personnel with service-connected disabilities make needed changes to their living environment, such as ramps, walkways, handrails, grab bars, sliding doors, and other modifications.[3]

  1. Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant helps recipients live independently in a barrier-free environment
  2. Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant helps recipients with specific service-connected disabilities adapt or purchase a home to accommodate the impairment
  3. Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant helps recipients adapt a house owned by a family member

Private companies such as Home Depot and charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity (see below) often set aside resources to fix homes to help the men and women who defended our country. Check with local entities in your area.

Low-Income

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Housing Preservation program, provides grants to sponsoring organizations that fund housing repair and rehabilitation for low-income residents located in rural areas. Grants are free money that you do not have to repay.

However, this free grant money has limitations.[4]

  • Residents in urban areas do not qualify as the money flows to rural areas only
  • Individual homeowners are not eligible
  • Only state or local governments, tribal entities, or charitable organizations can apply

Charities That Help with Home Repairs

A variety of charities often provides help with home repairs as part of the services offered to target groups such as low-income families, single mothers, veterans, the disabled, and others. However, it pays to keep several things in mind when dealing with non-profit organizations.

  • Funding is often sparse as they rely on the generosity of donors
  • Needs from the local community often outstrip their limited resources
  • Restoration work may be one of the many services they provide

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanities is a non-profit charitable organization that might have affiliates willing to perform repair work for local homeowners in need. While their primary mission is to build affordable new housing for low-income families, they often face gaps in suitable jobs for their army of servant construction workers, carpenters, HVAC technicians, plumbers, electricians, roofers, masons, and other tradespeople.

Renovation work is often a more cost-effective way for Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help people in their local communities. Also, fixing up houses keeps the volunteers engaged in between new construction projects, which must fit narrow parameters.[5]

Contact your local Habitat office to express your need for restoration work.

Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together is a non-profit charitable organization that focuses on community revitalization. Corporate and community partners combine to repair homes and rebuild lives

The affiliate network of Rebuilding Together completes close to 10,000 renovation projects each year. They have affiliates who serve the needs of people in need across the country. Look for a local outlet in your area.[6]

Local Volunteers

Local volunteers can often provide pro bono home repair services for individuals with special needs such as the elderly, single mothers, and the disabled. Retired and under-employed people often give up their time to support others in their local community.

Consider reaching out to a nearby charitable organization that could connect you with a volunteer.

  • Churches, mosques, and synagogues
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Rotary
  • Catholic Charities
  • Lions Club
  • Elks Club
  • VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars)

Sources:

[1] Government loans & grants

[2] Section 504

[3] VA Housing Assistance

[4] USDA Housing Preservation

[5] Habitat for Humanities

[6] Rebuilding Together