Most home repair assistance programs come packaged as a loan: money you must repay over time with interest. That is not free.
Fortunately, you have three strategies if your house is falling apart and you cannot afford to fix it.
First, many charities, churches, and ministries offer help with home repairs to senior citizens, disabled individuals, and other vulnerable groups.
Second, the government offers free home repair grants, but you have to apply for each program separately and utilize creative labels to find them.
Finally, low-income families qualify most frequently for these free home repair programs, while seniors and people with disabilities have additional opportunities unique to their situations.
Charities That Help with Home Repairs
Many charities provide help with home repairs as part of the services offered to target groups, such as low-income families. However, it pays to keep several things in mind when dealing with non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.
- Funding is often sparse as they rely on the generosity of donors
- Local community need often outstrip the capacity of volunteers
- Restoration work may be one of the many services they provide
- Charities That Help with Home Repairs
- Church Ministries That Help With Home Repairs
- Government Home Repair Grants
- Free Home Repair for Low-Income Families
Low-income families can turn to national charities that help with home repairs nationwide, as they often have more resources and volunteers located close to where you live.
Rebuilding Together is a national charity that helps with home repair focusing on community revitalization. Corporate and community partners combine to refurbish dwellings and rebuild lives.
The affiliate network of Rebuilding Together completes close to 10,000 renovation projects each year. They have non-profit affiliates who serve people in need across the country. Look for a local outlet in your area.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanities is a nationwide charity that often assists with home repair. While their primary mission is to build affordable housing for low-income families, they often face gaps in suitable jobs for their army of servant tradespeople.
Renovation work is often a more cost-effective way for Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help people in their local communities. Contact your local affiliate to express your need for restoration work.
The Home Depot Foundation works to better the homes and lives of US veterans, train skilled tradespeople to fill the labor gap, and support communities impacted by natural disasters.
The charitable foundation also offers grant awards up to $5,000 to 501(c)(3) designated organizations recognized and in good standing with the IRS for a minimum of one year and tax-exempt public service agencies in the US using the power of volunteers to improve the community.
Low-income families should also research regional charities that help with home repairs to find a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with volunteers near where they live.
Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona – Tucson and Pima County
Foundation for Senior Living – Phoenix
Home Repair Services of Kent County – Grand Rapids
Snowbelt Housing Company – Lowville
Church Ministries That Help With Home Repairs
Many churches support home repair ministries to reach vulnerable families in their local area and qualify as 501(c) (3) charitable organizations.
Jesus was a carpenter and taught to love others through sacrificial service.
Several church-sponsored home repair ministries reach people across the country through charitable service to demonstrate the love of Jesus. Search for local offices or mission trips in your neighborhood.
Catholic Charities faithfully serve people in need through the collective effort of the church ministry. Their affordable housing programs provide emergency shelters & long-term assistance to vulnerable populations.
The non-profit organization has a network of offices throughout the country, and some occasionally support home repair efforts to keep people off the streets. Contact your local office for help.
Samaritans Purse is a faith-based ministry that sometimes assists with home repairs after natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, etc.
For example, Samaritans Purse recently sent a team to Galena, Alaska, to rebuild houses swept off their foundations by floodwaters.
Several church-based ministries help with home repairs across the country and internationally by organizing mission trips for youth and adults.
Contact one of these groups about your needs. They may have a mission trip already scheduled in your area or could make one happen on your behalf.
Most church-based home repair ministries serve their communities with charitable service exclusively in their community (city or county). Below is a sampling organized by state.
Ecumenical Ministries – Baldwin County
New Hope Presbyterian Church – Castle Rock
First Baptist Church – Pensacola
Heart Felt Ministries – Jacksonville
Home Repair Ministries – Norcross
Big Creek Missions – Bear Branch
Cedaridge Ministries – Williamsburg
Hope House – Bowling Green
United Methodist Parish – Cumberland County
Hand in Hand Ministries – Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, and Martin counties
Solid Rock Ministries – Holland & Zeeland
Cary Christian Center – Cary
Voice of Calvary Ministries – Jackson
Snowbelt Housing Company – Lowville
Holland’s United Methodist Church – Raleigh
Partners in Ministry – East Laurinburg
The Urban Mission – Steubenville
Cornerstone Ministries – Murrysville
Handyman Ministries – Gordonville
Good Neighbors, Inc. – Kennett Square
Sumter United Ministries – Sumter County
Appalachian Outreach – East Tennessee
Centreville United Methodist Church – Sneedville
Saint Luke’s United Methodist Church – Memphis
Service Over Self – Memphis
Mountain TOP – Coalmont
Northwest Assistance Ministries – Houston
The Network of Community Ministries – Dallas, Garland, Richardson
First United Methodist Church – Burleson
BluePrint Ministries – San Antonio
Texas Ramp Project: Statewide
Love Inc. – Charlottesville & Albemarle County
Tree of Life – Lynchburg
Government Home Repair Grants
The federal government provides free home repair grants for low-income families indirectly. Because you do not have to repay the money, expect lots of competition and strict qualifying criteria.
The money flows to states and regional agencies – not individuals. Therefore, you must identify the local recipient that disperses the funding following program parameters.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) provides free home repair grants for low-income families through its Weatherization Assistance Program. Approved projects increase the energy efficiency of your residence and could include any of the following.
- HVAC replacement equipment
- Household appliance replacement
- Window replacement and repairs
- Roof replacement and repairs
Search for Weatherization Assistance Program administrators in your state or county and apply for help with the designated organization.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides two different free home repair grants to low-income families living in rural areas (population less than 20,000).
The USDA Section 504 program provides home repair grants for citizens living in designated rural areas. To qualify, you must meet these criteria.
- Be the homeowner and occupy the house
- Be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere
- Have a household income under the very low county limit
- Be age 62 or older and not be able to repay a repair loan
The USDA Housing Preservation Grant provides free money to sponsoring organizations to repair or rehabilitate homes owned or occupied by very-low-income rural citizens.
Eligible expenses include repairing or replacing electrical wiring, foundations, roofs, insulation, heating equipment, water disposal systems, and handicap accessibility features
The US Department of Housing and Development (HUD) provides numerous free home repair grants to sponsoring organizations that disperse the funds to support low-income families living in their service areas.
Apply for this assistance by looking for grantees serving your local area. For example, many of these urban centers have readily identifiable charitable organizations or city agencies that could be recipients of HUD money.
|Metropolitan Area||Resource Name|
|New York City||The Center for NYC Neighborhoods|
|Los Angeles||Handyworker Program|
|Chicago||Roof and Porch Lottery|
Illinois Housing Development Authority
|Houston||Harris County Community Services Department |
City of Houston Housing and Community Development
|Phoenix||Neighborhood Services Department|
Maricopa County Human Services
|Philadelphia||Basic Systems Repair Program|
|San Antonio||Neighborhood & Housing Services|
|San Diego||Housing & Community Development Services|
|Dallas||Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization|
|San Jose||City of San Jose Housing Department|
The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers four possible free home repair grants that people of all income levels can utilize. The higher your earnings, the more significant the savings due to our progressive tax code. However, there is one catch.
The grants work for home improvements that increase property values or utility rather than for projects that fix something broken. You might be able to deduct four types of expenses.
- Renewable energy upgrades such as geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines, solar energy systems, fuel cells, and biomass fuel stoves
- Medically necessary adaptations such as ramps, lifts, doorway alterations, and modifications to enhance mobility
- Projects that increase the resale price of your property count toward the cost basis, reducing the capital gains taxes owed
- Home office modifications qualify for self-employed individuals who run their business from a dedicated room
Free Home Repair for Low-Income Families
Low-income families can find free home repair services by applying for every conceivable assistance program available through charities, churches, ministries, and the government.
Plus, senior citizens and individuals with disabilities can surface additional resources through nuances unique to their demographic.
There are many programs to help senior citizens with home repairs when you open your mind to all the possibilities. Elderly adults often have low incomes during their retirement years, making them eligible for assistance from charities, ministries, and government grants.
Plus, senior citizens have at least three other ways to get free home repair services.
Free government money for seniors over 50 can work as a substitutionary home repair assistance program. Sometimes, indirect avenues can provide the resources needed to fix leaky plumbing, faulty wiring, cracked driveways, or crumbling foundations.
Older people frequently qualify for other benefits programs that might add to their monthly income or help them reduce spending for everyday items such as food, phones, tax preparation, legal services, transportation, and more.
USDA Section 504 grants of up to $10,000 could easily support free home repair for seniors, provided the project remediates health and safety hazards.
For instance, elderly adults are at a high risk of falling and breaking bones. Therefore any modifications that reduce your chances of tripping or slipping would qualify.
- Install walk-in bathtubs
- Resolve uneven flooring
- Replace non-working lighting
- Eliminate power cords
In another example, seniors often have difficulty breathing and require supplemental oxygen. Therefore, repairs for air conditioning and ventilation systems would also be eligible.
IRS tax grants for unreimbursed medical expenses can also work as an off-label free home repair program for senior citizens. Elderly adults pay Medicare premiums during their retirement years, boosting possible refunds.
Seniors can include Medicare premiums as a deductible medical and dental expense because they cannot use pre-tax payroll contributions. Savings begin after eligible costs exceed 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income.
The premiums make the threshold easier to meet when deducting expenses for medically necessary adaptations recommended by a doctor.
Disabled people can also find free home repair by applying for every conceivable program. Individuals with disabilities often have low incomes because they cannot work full time, making them eligible for assistance from charities, ministries, churches, and government grants.
Plus, individuals with disabilities have at least two other opportunities worth exploring.
Personal loans for people on disability benefits can help with a home repair project and turn into a free grant should you encounter financial difficulties. While you can only borrow tiny sums, lenders face restrictions should you default in the future.
- Lenders cannot garnish Social Security disability checks
- You cannot lose your home through foreclosure because the loan is unsecured
Private health insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare will sometimes offer financial help for disabled individuals with medically necessary home repairs that support health and mobility.
For instance, a disabled person might get free money from one of these insurance programs if their doctor-prescribed wheelchair ramp or grab bars needed fixing.
Submit the letter of medical necessity to the insurance company for preapproval.