Home improvements can significantly increase the value of your house and make it feel more like a home to you and your family. They may also be necessary to improve safety or help older people stay in their homes. Through the federal government, home improvement grants are available to help some homeowners offset the large expense.
Each product comes with its own set of criteria and not everyone can qualify for a grant, but it’s a good option if you do qualify.
Eligibility for home improvement grants varies across the different programs. Given the fact that grants generally don’t have to be repaid, it’s worth applying if you think you may be eligible.
“The beauty of homeownership is that as improvements are made, the quality of living increases along with the value of the home,” said John W. Mallett, a mortgage loan originator and author of Buy Your First Home Today.
Read on to learn more about home improvement grants and how you can find one to help ease the financial burden of home upgrades.
What Grants Are Available for Home Improvements?
A grant is a sum of money that doesn’t have to be repaid. In the case of home improvement grants, funds are available to help homeowners renovate their homes, increasing their value or bringing them up to health and safety standards. They can be issued by federal, state or local governments.
Keep in mind that some of these grants are technically loans that can later be forgiven. Some of the agencies that offer home improvement grants include:
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: One of the most substantial grant programs for home improvements is the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides grants to states and local communities to fund local improvement projects. State and local governments can pass those grants along to individual homeowners in the form of grants or loans.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: The USDA offers remodel incentives to low-income homeowners, as well as grants to elderly low-income individuals to remove health and safety standards from their homes. Homeowners can combine a loan and a grant to receive more money.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA offers several different grant programs designed for eligible veterans to help improve their homes. These grants help disabled former servicemembers to live independently and remain in their homes.
Can I Qualify for a Home Improvement Grant?
Each home improvement grant comes with its own set of requirements, but most require that you be the homeowner and use the property as your primary residence. Eligibility is also often income-based, meaning you’ll have to have a household income below a certain threshold.
“In general terms, most of the money for 100% grant money, no repayment, is for individuals or households below the median income level for the area they live in,” Mallett said. “However, do not be discouraged from applying. Many applicants are surprised when their grant is approved at higher income levels.”
In addition to the income and residency requirements, several of the grants are designed for a particular type of homeowner. For example, The USDA program is specifically intended for those living in rural areas, while grants from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs are limited to current and former military service members.
Eligibility for home improvement grants may also be dependent on the type of project. For example, USDA grants may only be used to remove health and safety hazards from the home. VA grants are often specifically meant to help families adapt their homes to make them sustainable for unique physical needs.
How Much Money Can I Get in a Home Improvement Grant?
There are billions of dollars in home improvement grants available to homeowners, but there are limits to the amount an individual may be eligible for. Homeowners are generally limited to up to $7,500 in federal government-sponsored grants.
The limits may be higher for VA grants for disabled veterans. You may also be able to get additional money from sources other than the federal government, helping to increase your home improvement budget.
How Do I Apply for a Home Improvement Grant?
There are a variety of home improvement grants available, and the best place to look depends on the type of grant you’re looking for. Unfortunately, there isn’t one central location where you can find them all.
The National Residential Improvement Association has a form on its website where you can find programs you may be eligible for. You can also visit the websites for the Department of Agriculture, Department of Veterans Affairs, or Department of Housing and Urban Development to see if you are eligible for their programs. (See the list above for links.)
“The best place to start looking is local, starting with your city, county, or state Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” said Nicole Christopherson, real estate broker at NMC Realty. “HUD offers grants like the HOME Investment Partnerships Program for low-income homeowners, as well as various types of home repair loans. The National Residential Improvement Association is also an excellent resource to help grant seekers find the best program/grant to fit their needs.”
Finally, you can also research city, county, or state-sponsored grants.
Like many government housing programs, eligibility for home improvement grants is limited and often only available to those with limited income. But if you’re considering making vital improvements to your home, it may be a good use of your time to search federal, state, and local grant programs before arranging for other financing.