Need to make repairs in your home but don’t have the money? There is help available.
In this post, you’ll learn about resources for free home repairs or low-cost home repairs, including programs offered by:
- Federal government
- State and local government
- Nonprofits and charities
- Banks and other financial institutions
Keep reading to learn what’s available to you:
Federal government assistance for home repairs and improvements
The following federal and state/local programs offer loans or grants to complete home repairs and improvements that elevate your quality of life:
FHA 203(k) loan
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 203(k) loan, also known as 203(k) insurance, is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). HUD-approved lenders offer a simplified, affordable fixed or adjustable rate loan for a single family home.
It’s a great option for:
- Homebuyers — If you are buying a fixer-upper, you can roll the costs of repair into your original mortgage
- Homeowners — If you already own a home, you can refinance your current mortgage to cover the cost of the renovations
- Low- to moderate-income individuals — This program helps home buyers and homeowners who cannot afford home repairs upfront, but can pay for them over time.
To qualify for the FHA 203(k) loan, you need a minimum credit score of 500. Although this may vary by lender. There is no income limit to participate in the program.
There is a standard and limited 203(k) loan, and each addresses different needs, but all loan types must meet a minimum amount of $5,000. The total property value must be within the FHA mortgage limit for the area.
Here are just a few home improvement projects the loan can cover:
- Fixing health and safety hazards (like removing lead paint)
- Upgrading plumbing, electrical wiring, or HVAC systems
- Making the home accessible to disabled persons
- Installing energy-efficient windows or doors
- Replacing floors, roofing, or gutters
To apply or for more information, contact a participating FHA lender.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funds improvements that make your home more energy efficient, cutting down on high utility bills and saving you money over time.
If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Aid to Families with Dependent Children, you are automatically eligible.
However, you can still apply even if you are not enrolled in these programs. States prioritize WAP funding to the following groups:
- People over 60
- Families with dependent children
- Families with at least one disabled member
- High energy users
Pre-tax income limits vary by state, but households must have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
WAP makes it possible for low-income families to tackle much-needed weatherization improvements such as:
- Cleaning, repairing, or replacing HVAC systems
- Installing insulation in walls and around pipes
- Installing low-flow showerheads
- Replacing appliances with energy-inefficient models
WAP is available in all states, U.S. territories, and tribal lands.
To apply, contact your state WAP administrator.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP helps families lower their energy costs, and that includes minor energy-related home repairs like making homes more energy efficient and repairing or replacing heating equipment.
Use this search tool to find out about the LIHEAP program in your state.
Home repair programs for veterans
Disabled veterans and service members can get funding to improve accessibility at home through VA renovation loans and programs.
This includes improving home entrance access, installing equipment for bathroom safety, and upgrading plumbing or electrical work to support the demands of home medical equipment.
If you are a disabled vet, you can get help through these programs:
- Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA)
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant
- Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant
With HISA, you can get $6,800 to fix or alter your home for disabilities that resulted from your service in the Armed Forces and $2,000 to address issues that did not originate from serving in the military.
The SAH grant offers up to $109,986 for fiscal year (FY) 2023 (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2023) to buy, build, or make changes to a home you plan to stay in for a while.
The grant, which does not have to be repaid, is for veterans or service members who own or are buying a home and have a qualifying disability connected to service, including:
- Loss of one or more limbs (or loss of use)
- Loss of lower leg use and a resulting natural disease or injury stemming from the issue
- Loss of or inability to use a foot or leg (after Sep, 11, 2001)
- Blindness in both eyes (20/200 vision or less)
- Specific severe burns
Similar to the SAH grant, the The SHA grant gives qualified veterans and servicemembers up to $22,036 for fiscal year 2023. However, the qualified service-related disabilities are limited to:
- Loss of both hands (or loss of use)
- Specific severe burns
- Specific injuries that impact breathing or cause respiratory issues
To get help, contact your local VA.
Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs
The residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, also known as R-PACE, allows current homeowners to get financing to improve their home’s energy efficiency.
Homeowners pay back the cost over a 10- to 20-year period at a low interest rate. These payments are usually assessed with the yearly property tax bill. The debt is tied to the property instead of an individual, resulting in a lien on the property until it is paid in full.
Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants
If you are a low-income homeowner living in a rural area, you can get a loan or grant to fix up your home to make it safe, healthy, and modern.
The loans are for a 20-year period at a 1% fixed interest rate. The grants are specifically for home repairs to remove health and safety hazards. In some cases, the grant and loan can be combined, based on the applicant’s repayment ability.
Loan amounts are up to $20,000. Grants max out at $7,500.
To be eligible for this program, you must be:
- Living in a rural area
- At least 62 years old
- Earn below 50% of the area median income
To apply or get more information, contact your local USDA service center.
Section 502 Guaranteed Loan Program
The Section 502 Guaranteed Loan Program helps low-income and moderate-income families to buy or fix up a home in eligible rural areas.
This program focuses on making homeownership possible and ensures that people are living in safe, clean, modern dwellings to experience a better quality of life.
To apply, you must:
- Live in an eligible rural area
- Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. non-citizen national, or qualified alien
- Agree to live in the home as your primary residence
- Meet income eligibility requirements for your state (below 115% of the median household income in your area)
There are no credit score requirements, and Interest rates vary by lender, so applicants are encouraged to shop around.
This program works with approved lenders, backing the loans with a 90% note guarantee. The program offers 100% financing to accepted applicants. This makes it possible for qualified borrowers not to put money down.
To apply, reach out to approved lenders in your state.
FEMA's Individuals and Households Program
If you experience a disaster that impacts your house, you may be eligible for housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
To qualify, you must meet these conditions:
- You or someone who lives with you is a U.S. citizen, U.S. non-citizen national, or qualified alien
- Pass FEMA’s identity and occupancy verification process
- Pass ownership verification for home repair and replacement assistance
- Primary residence is in an area that the President of the United States has declared as a disaster area
- State of your residence is unlivable or inaccessible
- No homeowner’s insurance or your insurance does not cover all losses
FEMA offers two types of assistance:
- Financial Housing Assistance — Provides money for temporary housing, repairs, or to replace a home
- Direct Housing Assistance — FEMA provides temporary housing, repairs dwellings for displaced people, and initiates new construction in a disaster zone
Begin your FEMA application online to get assistance.
State and local government assistance for home repairs and improvements
Check with your state or local government to find out what programs are available. Here are a few examples of programs that serve local residents:
Broward Co. Minor Home Repair Program
In Florida, the Broward County Minor Home Repair Program helps local homeowners improve the efficiency and stability of their homes with a 10-year deferred payment loan.
Improvements may include replacing roofs, doors, windows, and HVAC units.
- Live in a single family home, townhome, villa or condo
- Live in one of the program service areas
- Have a gross income that does not exceed 80% of the area median income, based on household size
- Current on their mortgage, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance premiums
Funding is available until it is exhausted, so it’s best to reach out at the beginning of the year.
Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation
The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation is an Ohio-based organization dedicated to reinvestment in urban neighborhoods.
There are two programs that address home repairs for owner-occupied single family homes:
- Roof Replacement — This program replaces leaky roofs at no cost to homeowners
- Emergency Home Repair — If you have an emergency with your heating and cooling unit, plumbing, and other important systems, this program will make free home repairs
The organization uses HUD guidelines to determine eligibility. Contact the organization for more information.
Nonprofits and charities that help with home repairs
Search for nonprofits in your area that offer free home repairs. You can searching for “free home repair nonprofits near me.” Some organizations have a network with affiliates in multiple states, like this option:
Based in Washington, DC, Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit devoted to ensuring homes throughout the country are livable, accessible, safe, and healthy.
The nonprofit has a mix of programs that speak to different community needs and has affiliates in 37 states and the District of Columbia. These affiliates match homeowners with skilled volunteers and financial sponsors to perform home repairs free of charge.
Eligibility requirements vary by affiliate, but in general, you must be a homeowner with a low-income. Preference is given to:
- Single moms
- People with disabilities
- Veterans at Home — Offers free home modifications to veterans to ensure safety and accessibility and keep them independent at home
- Building a Healthy Neighborhood —This program helps revitalize neighborhoods by improving the safety and health of residences and community spaces
- Disaster Readiness Recovery — A crisis response program to help rebuild homes in the wake of a natural or manmade disaster
- Safe at Home — Free home modifications for seniors to reduce fall hazards, make homes accessible and support independence at home
- She Builds — This program provides free home repairs for single moms.
To get help, contact your local affiliate.
Other options for financing home repairs and improvements
If you have equity in your home, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or home equity loan are two options to help you handle home repairs.
Both allow you to borrow money against your home’s equity if you are:
- Have good credit
- History of responsibly paying accounts on time
- Low income-to-debt ratio
Home equity lines of credit
A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that allows you to borrow up to 85% of your home’s value. They function much like a credit card because you can withdraw money and make minimum payments, but they often have much lower interest rates.
HELOCs also provide flexibility. During the draw period, which lasts five to 10 years, you can withdraw money for home improvements, but also consolidate debt or finance a large purchase.
The length of the repayment period is usually 20 years. You can no longer withdraw funds once you enter the repayment period.
Home equity loans
A home equity loan functions a little differently than a HELOC. You still borrow against the equity of your home, but you get the money in a lump sum.
You’ll pay the loan back over a period of anywhere from five to 30 years, typically at a fixed rate.
However, it’s important to note that if you default on the loan, you could face foreclosure.
A cash-out refinance allows you to replace your current mortgage with a new, larger mortgage loan. At closing, you'll receive in cash the difference between the new loan amount and your old mortgage balance.
For example, if your mortgage was for $150,000 and you wanted to do $20,000 worth of improvements, you would refinance a new loan for $170,000.
Note that when you refinance your mortgage, you will be subject to current interest rates, not the rate you originally had on your first mortgage. You can typically borrow up to 80% of your home's value.
Most lenders require you to have at least 20% equity in your home and to have owned the house for at least six months to qualify for a cash-out refinance. See if you qualify for a mortgage refi >>
So, what do you do with a house you can’t afford to fix?
If you can’t get the help you need to repair your home to make it livable, you can consider selling your home for cash.
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