Especially in these challenging economic times, it is common to see home repair grants advertised everywhere. These ‘free money’ ads for home repairs are usually posted by companies that charge a fee to apply for the grant on your behalf. However, there is no reason why you can’t apply for the grant yourself and save this fee. All of the information that you need to have to successfully apply for a grant is available free of charge from local government and private agencies.
What is a grant?
First of all you should understand exactly what a grant is. A grant is money that is given to you for a specific purpose, and it never has to be paid back. The difference between a grant and a loan is that you do have to pay a loan back, even if you get a really low interest rate or many years to pay it back. There are government programs for both grants and low cost loans, and they are available for people who cannot qualify for a regular loan. Grants go largely to people who have credit difficulties, the elderly and the disabled. Each grant has certain eligibility requirements, and when you apply for the grant there is an application process that you have to go through. So if you fit the requirements for a specific grant, you have nothing to lose by qualifying for it. When you are searching for grants, look for opportunities offered by the government, those offered through private funding, as well as grants from state and local agencies and local service organizations.
With such a variety of grants available, obviously not all grants are available everywhere. You will have to look for the specific grant that may work for you. You can find opportunities offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, so you can contact your local area office to find out what you need to do to apply for their grant. They can also tell you who is and is not eligible for the grant, and they can inform you of the grant application process.
While not all repairs are covered by grants, the fundamental ones generally are. A simple cosmetic improvement or recreational improvement will usually not be considered. They types of repairs that are grant worthy include the fundamental structures and functions of a home like the roof, the heating system, plumbing, the electrical system and water and sewer systems just to name a few. Another area where a grant can be of immense value is if you need to retrofit your home to make it wheelchair accessible.
When you locate an appropriate grant, you can always visit your local USDA office, and they can help step you through the grant application process. Often times you can find help online as you progress through the application process. You will need to provide financial information like tax returns and pay stubs, and you will need a professional estimate of the required home repairs. So be ready to take a little time and do a good job filling out your application, because it may make the difference between getting your ‘free money’ or not.