Home repair grants are financial assistance programs that help low-income homeowners to make improvements or modifications to their homes. These grants can improve the safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency of the homes, as well as reduce the risk of injuries and falls. Home repair grants are offered by various government agencies and organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In this article, we will explore some statistics and facts about home repair grants in the U.S., using data from census and other government sources.
Eligibility and Availability of Home Repair Grants
Home repair grants are typically targeted to specific groups of homeowners, such as the elderly, the disabled, the veterans, the Native Americans, and the rural residents. The eligibility criteria may vary depending on the program, but generally, the applicants must:
- Own and occupy the home as their primary residence.
- Have a low income below a certain threshold.
- Demonstrate a need for home repair or improvement.
- Agree to use the grant for the intended purpose.
- Meet other requirements such as age, disability, citizenship, etc.
The availability of home repair grants may depend on the funding level, the demand, and the geographic location of the applicants. Some programs may have limited funds or waiting lists, while others may have regional or local preferences. For example, the Section 504 Home Repair Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides loans and grants to very-low-income rural homeowners to repair, improve, or modernize their homes . According to the program’s annual report, in fiscal year 2020, the program received $28.2 million in appropriations and assisted 3,786 households, of which 2,507 received grants and 1,279 received loans. The average grant amount was $7,614 and the average loan amount was $12,043. The program served homeowners in all 50 states, but the top five states with the most grant recipients were Texas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Benefits and Outcomes of Home Repair Grants
Home repair grants can have various benefits and outcomes for the homeowners and the communities, such as:
- Improving the quality and condition of the homes
- Enhancing the comfort and livability of the homes
- Increasing the home value and equity
- Reducing the energy consumption and costs
- Preventing or delaying the need for institutional care
- Supporting the aging in place and independent living
- Promoting the health and well-being of the homeowners
- Creating jobs and stimulating the local economy
Some programs may conduct evaluations or surveys to measure the impact and satisfaction of the home repair grants. For example, the Weatherization Assistance Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, provides grants to low-income households to improve the energy efficiency and safety of their homes. According to the program’s national evaluation, in program year 2008, the program weatherized 98,000 homes and achieved an average annual energy savings of $437 per household. The program also improved the indoor air quality, reduced the carbon emissions, and increased the health and safety of the households. The program’s client survey found that 97% of the households were satisfied with the weatherization services and 81% reported improved comfort and reduced energy bills.
Homeownership and Housing Problems among Low-Income Households
According to the 2019 American Community Survey, there were about 38.8 million households in the U.S. with incomes below the poverty level or 125% of the poverty level. Of these, 17.4 million (44.9%) were homeowners and 21.4 million (55.1%) were renters. Homeownership rates varied by race and ethnicity, with non-Hispanic whites having the highest rate (54.5%) and blacks having the lowest rate (32.4%) among low-income households.
Low-income households faced various housing problems, such as cost burden, overcrowding, and inadequate facilities. Cost burden means spending more than 30% of income on housing costs, while severe cost burden means spending more than 50%. Overcrowding means having more than one person per room, while inadequate facilities means lacking complete plumbing or kitchen facilities. The 2019 American Housing Survey found that among low-income households, 24.4% of homeowners and 47.5% of renters had cost burden, 6.2% of homeowners and 10.9% of renters had severe cost burden, 3.4% of homeowners and 6.9% of renters had overcrowding, and 0.8% of homeowners and 1.6% of renters had inadequate facilities.
Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Home Repair Needs and Assistance
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the housing situation and needs of many Americans, especially low-income homeowners. A survey conducted by Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit organization that provides home repairs and modifications to low-income homeowners, found that 42% of their clients reported increased home repair needs due to the pandemic, such as plumbing, electrical, heating, and ventilation issues. The survey also found that 36% of their clients experienced a loss of income or employment due to the pandemic, making it harder for them to afford home repairs or improvements.
The pandemic has also impacted the availability and delivery of home repair assistance programs. Many programs had to suspend or reduce their services, adopt new safety protocols, or shift to virtual or remote methods of assessment and assistance. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs temporarily halted its Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program, which provides grants to veterans with disabilities to modify their homes, due to health and safety concerns. The program resumed its operations in June 2020 with new procedures, such as conducting virtual site visits and inspections, and using electronic signatures and payments. Similarly, the Weatherization Assistance Program adapted to the pandemic by implementing online training, remote audits, and contactless installations.
Examples of Home Repair Grants Programs and Projects
There are many home repair grants programs and projects that serve different populations and needs. Here are some examples of them:
- The HOME Investment Partnerships Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides grants to states and local governments to create affordable housing for low-income households. The program allows the grantees to use up to 15% of their funds for home repair activities, such as rehabilitation, reconstruction, or weatherization. In fiscal year 2019, the program allocated $1.25 billion to 651 grantees and assisted 38,461 households with home repair activities.
- The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides grants to Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages to develop and maintain affordable housing for their members. The program allows the grantees to use their funds for various housing activities, including home repair and improvement. In fiscal year 2019, the program allocated $655 million to 573 grantees and assisted 13,569 households with home repair and improvement activities.
- The Home Depot Foundation, a private nonprofit organization, supports various initiatives and partnerships that provide home repair and improvement services to low-income veterans, seniors, and disaster survivors. The foundation works with national and local organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, and Team Rubicon, to fund and execute home repair projects. In 2019, the foundation invested $63 million and engaged 35,000 volunteers to complete more than 2,100 home repair projects across the U.S.
Challenges and Opportunities for Home Repair Grants
Home repair grants face various challenges and opportunities in meeting the needs and demands of low-income homeowners and communities. Some of the challenges include:
- Limited funding and resources
- Complex and varied eligibility and application processes
- Lack of awareness and outreach among potential beneficiaries
- Coordination and collaboration among multiple stakeholders and partners
- Compliance and monitoring of grant performance and outcomes
- Evaluation and measurement of grant impact and effectiveness
Some of the opportunities include:
- Leveraging new technologies and innovations to improve service delivery and efficiency
- Expanding and diversifying the sources and types of funding and financing
- Developing and sharing best practices and lessons learned among grant providers and recipients
- Aligning and integrating home repair grants with other housing and community development programs and policies
- Engaging and empowering the homeowners and communities in the planning and implementation of home repair projects
- Addressing the emerging and evolving needs and preferences of the homeowners and communities, such as aging in place, accessibility, sustainability, and resilience
Home repair grants are important resources that can help low-income homeowners to maintain and improve their homes. These grants can have positive effects on the physical, economic, and social aspects of the homeowners and the communities. Home repair grants are offered by various government agencies and organizations, with different eligibility and availability criteria. Homeowners who are interested in applying for home repair grants should contact their local or state agencies or visit their websites for more information.
- USAGov. (n.d.). Home repair and energy efficiency assistance. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from https://www.usa.gov/repairing-home
- USDA Rural Development. (2021). Section 504 Home Repair Program Annual Report Fiscal Year 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RD-Section504AnnualReportFY2020.pdf
- U.S. Department of Energy. (n.d.). Weatherization Assistance Program. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from https://www.energy.gov/eere/wap/weatherization-assistance-program
- U.S. Department of Energy. (2015). Weatherization Assistance Program National Evaluation Summary of Results. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/09/f26/weatherization_program_summary_report.pdf
- U.S. Department of Energy. (2015). Weatherization Assistance Program National Evaluation Client Survey Results. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/09/f26/client_survey_results.pdf
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2020). HOME Investment Partnerships Program: Summary of FY 2019 Accomplishments. Retrieved November 6, 2023,