Home Repair Loans and Grants for Low-Income Americans

by on January 22, 2014Shannon O'Brien

Houses are a lot like cars in that if you don’t keep up on repairs, pretty soon they start to coalesce into one big, expensive pain in the neck. When the needed repairs are of a health or safety nature, the need for speed in fixing them can be overwhelming. While leaky roofs, bad wiring and rotted pipes can’t be ignored, fixing them is impossible for those without the financial means to do so.

The USDA offers loans and grants for home repairs to low-income homeowners in rural areasThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has programs to help low- to moderate-income homeowners in these situations: Rural Repair and Rehabilitation Loans and Grants. The programs are dedicated to assisting these homeowners with repairing, improving and updating their homes as well as removing health and safety hazards.

The Home’s Eligibility

Say the word “rural” to most people and they picture any area located outside of a city. The USDA has a unique definition of rural, however, when it comes to a home’s eligibility for a rural development loan or grant. This definition includes open spaces that are “not part of or associated with an urban area,” according to the USDA. But, the definition does not preclude small towns or villages. If these areas have a population fewer than 10,000, they may qualify. Areas with a population to 20,000 may qualify if there is a history of a serious lack of mortgage lending to low-income families in the area.

The Applicant’s Eligibility

The USDA uses the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) formulation of an area’s median income (AMI) to determine income limits for its programs. Each region’s AMI is adjusted annually. To qualify for either a grant or a loan, applicants must have income below 50 percent of the area median income and be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Grants are restricted to those aged 62 or older who lack the ability to pay back a rural development repair and rehabilitation loan. Applicants to either program must occupy the home.

Grant Terms

The funds that the applicant receives from the rural development grant program can only be used to pay for work performed to remedy health and safety hazards and improve accessibility. Some of the most common repair jobs include improvements to the home’s insulation, roof repair, new heating or cooling systems, adding ramps, widening doorways and repairing water and sewer connections. The maximum grant amount is $7,500.

Recipients aren’t required to pay back the grant money unless the home is sold within three years of receipt of the grant. In that case, the recipient is required to reimburse the USDA from the proceeds of the sale.

Loan Terms

Loans are available up to $20,000 at 1 percent interest for 20 years. They may be used to improve, update and repair the home as well as to remove safety and health hazards.

Repair Guidelines

The rural development program has certain guidelines for the repairs done with the grant money. If the repairs include anything having to do with waste and water systems, they must meet the area’s health department standards. While USDA loans used to purchase a home mandate that the house must meet the state’s building code and the Housing and Community Facilities Program (HCFP) thermal and site standards, repaired properties – either with the use of a grant or a loan – aren’t held to these guidelines.

To learn more about either program, contact a USDA Service Center in your area.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis sessa February 17, 2015 at 8:21 am

Hi me and my wife have worked all of our life’s we are both out of work for over two years we only get food stamps . We are in Desperit need of a roof and windows we have no were to go and now we have our 85 year old mother living with us . It has been very hard for us . We want to stay in our home . This is all we have .please help us we need it real bad .. Please hear us . Our roof is in need and we have drafty windows .. Please help us .from Dennis & Martha


Barbara Lahr February 11, 2015 at 6:57 am

I am in need of a bathroom floor and tub repair my floor has rottened and tub has a cracks I am disable and my husband can not do the work because of his helth problems we are on a fixed income please help if you can god bless and thank you


Cheri February 9, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Hi I am in desperate need with home repairs. I am on Disability, have a Special needs Daughter . I was informed by my Insurance Company I need to get a new roof before June 2015. With the terrible wind storms we have had it blew many shingles off. I also need to get my furnace repaired or replaced it keeps turning off and we wake up cold in the morning. Also I need to replace the shower/tub in the bathrooms badly. I have no extra money to do these repairs. I am sick after getting the letter from my Insurance company. You pay and pay and pay your Insurance I have never made a claim on Homeowners or auto and cannot even get the Insurance company to put a claim for my roof.. I cannot do the repairs myself. Thank you so much if any help could come my way. I am sickened right now .


Cheri February 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I would even take a loan


Shielah A powell February 6, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Hello we are a family of four, disabled. Grandmother, and her son and his kids. We
Need help badly. We can’ . Afford the work, nor the part really. We need plumbing work badly, electric. Work, plus cabinets and a stove with oven. Our cabinets base ones are rotting out, plus I need them lowered for I’m in power chair, we need windows that’ll close and stay shut and lock. We need a disabled bathroom, with hopefully a walk in tub… at least a glass door on shower with disabledbars and seating. My son is my chore worker, he has to be here for me, plus he himself has health problem.Our home stay cold in winter and even until April, our heating bill is over 200.00 a month and we are still cold. My grandchildren and my son and myself we have tried everything, we just flat need help, badly. Please won’t someone gelp us. Even the bedroom doors are falling off. WE REALLY NEED HELP, PLEASE HEAR OUR CRY , I HAVE NO ENTICING WORDS TO SAY TO MAKE AMYONE WANT TO. HELP US. SLL I CAN DO IS ASK. AND I’VEBEEN ASKING EVERYWHERE FOR HELP. SHIELAH 916613 9133


Shielah A powell February 6, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Sorry about the missed spelled word my fingers are to thick for the key board on my phone.


wynell Woodburn February 4, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I am not 62 but I need help replacing my roof, weatherizing my home and electrical work done on my home. I have my special needs grandson and his mother living with me, she is also disable and on dialysis. with current financial situation at my home, my daughter and my 8 year old grandson live in a room that is not safe or comfortable, they are hot in the summer and cold in the winter, due to lack of insulation and weather stripping on the doors and windows.


Dee January 12, 2015 at 10:39 am

I am low income have lived in my home for 54 years I found out in aug I have cancer had a mastectomey I need radiation and chemo have I dont have the money for the repair I need a new roof is there any help in Philadelphia


zeila wah January 11, 2015 at 7:38 pm

My name is Zeila Wah, and I looking for a grant to help me fix my house. I need to fix my kitchen, bathroom and do some electrical work as well. I owned a 2 family house in North philadelphia. The area is going through a new phase but my property need to be fixed so i can have an additional income. I am looking for a grant to fix my house in the amount of $20,000 if it is possible and I looking for the government grant to help homeowners.


Christina price December 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Hi my nam is christina from Scranton pa im looking for services that do home improvement that can be paid monthly my back porch and garage are in need of repair bad and just dont have money up front to do it and if i can find a place that can repair them and.pay monthly that would be great


veloria brookins December 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm

I am 57, work a part time job. That is the best I can do for the area I live in. I can not afford to replace the roof on my house,Is there any help if you are not 62 ?


sharon December 2, 2014 at 10:19 am

Hi my name is Sharon. My home is in need of alot of repairs , i am trying to do what i can but i just dont have the money and man power to do it all. The roof needs replacing immediaty before it falls in or destroys the foundation iof the house and roof. The room where the hole is needs to be gutted out because thre is black mold in there. I had to burn all the carpet and floor vilyn and clothes and funiture and applainces because of mold and holes. I need need windows because some are broken and some are mildwered. I need kitchen cabinets becuse old mold. Please please I need some help I want to make my home safe foe my family and my granchildren. Thank You.


michael November 25, 2014 at 5:59 pm

hello i’m on ssdi and need help with my lectrie bill . i need a grant to repair my roof to install solar panels to hope it will help lower my electrice bill and install windows


Mamie klinger November 13, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Hi I am a single woman. My husband passed away ten years ago and I still live in our house . I take care of my mom who is 84. Has heart condition. My home needs root repair and some other repairs. I can’t afford to get it fixed. I work overtime and still can’t make ends meet . Please help …


Layna Fernandez November 12, 2014 at 11:15 am

I am recently divorced and am disabled. I am in need of a roof and windows. I lost 80% of my income. Winter is coming and the Windows have lots of air coming in and i was just told i need a new roof. Pls. Help


lavaugh November 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

I am in desperate need of roof assistance. I’m elderly and my wife and grandaughter live with me. My roof is falling apart. Please help


Donna October 19, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Help please! I’m a mother of five children currently staying in a motel
My husband and I just bought a fixer upper but don’t know how we can come up with the money to fix it with paying soooo much on rent here. We desperately need a miracle. I’m not asking for me but for my babies. We just want to have a home to have so we don’t bece homeless. Our fixer upper needs little work nothing that we could manually do ourselves if we had the money to get materials.we can’t move into it til the main problems are fixed. Repairs include windows floors doors ac unit and weather izing. Please help. My children and I would be so greatful for any type of help.


judy modlin October 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I am 53, lost my husband in September, I need help to replace my windows and doors. and need to up date my electric. my house is old. and cold in in the winter, please help, I have no where to go now that my husband is gone. I am lost and need help.


Gabriel September 30, 2014 at 4:45 am

I have 4 kids n wife haveing trouble paying our bills n need a new roof it’s leaking In side have no money to fix it need help please


Leslie Regan September 28, 2014 at 4:07 pm

My name is Leslie, I am a single mother. I own my home, I have multiple sclerosis, I am employed full time. My fence and roof are in need of repair, I cannot afford to get these repairs done. Is there some asstistence for me that I cannot seem to find. Thank you


future home owner September 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm

I was approved for a usda loan and I found a house that is less then my loan amount. Is it possible to use the rest of that money for small repairs.


Tami snodgrass August 28, 2014 at 7:06 am

I’m in need of my bathroom roof fixed.. When it rains it rains in my bathroom ..My husband is disabled and can not fix it.. It has been this way for 2yrs.. Its getting worse and didn’t know how to get help.. My husband gets disability but it doesn’t go far .. Thank u for your time!!!


Keisha Seals August 13, 2014 at 6:16 am

We need help with repairs around the house get in touch with me so i know wat to do..


Debra August 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Hello I would like to know how I can go about getting some help for my in-laws. They are in their 80′s and they need help fixing up the floors and roof. They do not work and live on a minimal budget. The floors are really not safe for someone in their 80′s.The roof has leaks all over the house. I’m afraid it will one day come down. I need a grant as soon as possible,so I can get them some help before it get more dangerous for them to live their. Yes we can bring them in but to them it’s nothing like living in their own home. Please advise me as to where I can go to get a grant


amy walker July 9, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Hello, my name is Amy Walker. I live in my home with my 78 year old mother and my 15 yr old son. our roof is leaking and desperately needs repaired. Any suggestion or help is needed because we are a low income family. thankyou.


joanne cocchiaro July 7, 2014 at 8:18 am

I need help ,I am low income. I need new roof and windows In my home.I am on ssdi income please find me some help. Joanne


Marsha Carlson July 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

My daughter and son in law just bought a house it needs slot of work to be livable. I just wanted to know if they can get some help. They have a low income. Thank you.


Danielle Perez June 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Hello my name is Danielle and my family is in need of some major repairs in my home. I am the only one working right now and I have 3 children. Our heat and air conditioning system is shot and we were told that we need a new one since the system is very old. The winter was also harsh on our front steps and they are crumbling. Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.


Michelle Belton June 17, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Hello my name is Michelle I am in need of repairs around my house and cannot afford to get the things fix if you can help please help and I will be for ever so grateful thank you!!!


Diana Dushensky June 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Hello my name is Diana. We are in need for help doing repairs around our home. As we can’t afford to do so. Please let me know if you can help us. Greatly appreciated . Diana .


sam January 23, 2014 at 12:38 am

Shannon O’Brien many thanks for this really nice information. House demands care like every thing in the world. For less earning people its good option.


Shannon O'Brien February 4, 2014 at 1:06 am

You are so welcome. It is difficult for those of us that don’t make the huge bucks to get the help we need. Hope this helps a lot of people and I’m grateful that RealEstate.com helps me get the word out.


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