Imagine waking up in the morning to a leaking roof. That’ll be your cue to start the hunt for roofing companies, a costly undertaking considering you hadn’t planned for it. Often, homes require constant external house repairs, and while they might be quite expensive to manage, especially in the current global economic crisis where only a few can afford a new home, let alone keep up with repairs and maintenance costs. Luckily, some non-profits provide grants to vulnerable people, mainly for external house repairs. The grants aren’t for home modification or beautification but to correct health and safety hazards in the home. By addressing these health and safety hazards, the government is spared from spending money on disasters arising from neglected repairs. The grants also provide money to repair houses destroyed during natural disasters. So, here’s all you need to know about how non-profits can help with house repairs.
What Is a Repair Housing Grant?
According to todayshomeowner.com, a housing grant is free money or financial aid from the local or federal government so that the recipients can make select modifications to their homes. These repairs aim to correct home safety and health hazards or provide necessities such as a water supply or drainage system. Examples of a proper modification to a house are well pump replacements.
Not everyone is eligible for home grants; only a certain class can access them. Most repair grants finance external house repairs, but some housing repair programs provide financing in the form of deferred loans. You don’t pay the installments in a deferred loan until a specified period lapses. After this date, the unpaid loan starts accruing interest.
A good example of such a housing program is the Keuka Housing Counsel program. Part of their terms is that the money must not be used to remodel your home or for cosmetic repairs. You can’t use the loan funds to pick up new furniture from furniture stores. Approved repairs include addressing structural problems, such as repairing defective roofing systems and plumbing repairs.
What Do You Need to Know Before Applying for a House Repair Grant?
Before applying for a grant, understand what the house repair grant is for. For example, some house repair grants only cater to external house repairs. You should read and understand the terms of the grant. Educate yourself on the requirements and prepare all the necessary documentation to qualify.
Understand that if you don’t provide all the required documents, you’re likely to be disqualified since it’s the only evidence that shows you meet the criteria provided by the grant. Also, remember to submit the application documents before the deadline. No matter how qualified you are for the grant, as long as you submit it after the deadline, you are automatically disqualified.
Submit your application as early as possible after finding out about the grant. Finally, be patient. Since a grant is ‘free money,’ wait for it to be disbursed. In the current economic crisis, it might take the government some time to disburse the grants to those who qualify.
Who Is Eligible for Home Repair Grants?
Home repair grants are not accessible to everyone. There’s a deliberate effort to streamline the grants and make them available to only those who need them. Care is taken to prevent misuse of funds, such as recipients using the grants for other things besides house repairs. If funds are used for purposes other than those they were set up for, the non-profits will soon go bankrupt, which means future deserving clients will be disenfranchised.
The government provides grants for specific purposes. Housing repair grants must be used for house repairs, and to be eligible for these grants, you’ll have to meet the criteria. According to todayshomeowner.com, there are home grants for senior citizens, homeowners dealing with disaster recovery, low-income earners living in rural areas, low-income Native Americans, disabled veterans, and other marginalized or vulnerable groups. The specific criteria for eligibility vary from one grant to the other.
Types of External House Repairs That Are Financed by Non-Profits House Repair Grants
Sewage maintenance: One of the most dangerous health hazards in all external house repairs is a bad sewage system, which may cause waterborne diseases due to poor sanitation. The result is that more money is spent combating diseases. It’s wise to fix issues that could cause poor sanitation rather than wait for an epidemic to break out. If your cesspool is faulty, seek financing from a non-profit and use the funds to hire cesspool pumping businesses to remove the wastewater and accumulated sludge.
Community Recreational Facilities: Non-profits can provide financing to repair community recreational facilities. For example, a non-profit organization may employ the services of swimming pool contractors to design and build a swimming pool for the community.
Pathway Repairs: These are among the most expensive external house repairs. When pathways are damaged, they must be fixed as they can form potholes, detrimental to the safety of all who use them. Contact a non-profit and request them to fund pathway repairs.
Repairing facilities for people with disabilities: Every establishment has facilities for people with disabilities. If these facilities are in disrepair, it’s tough for this group of people to access them. For instance, a damaged ramp means people in wheelchairs can’t access a facility. Luckily, you can apply for a grant from a non-profit to repair the ramp or any structure that could hinder this special group from accessing a building.
Roofing repairs: A roof leak is one of the most common repairs in a home. Leaks in the roof are detrimental to your home, and hiring metal roof contractors can be costly. Luckily, a home repair grant can finance a roof contractor and stop the leaks.
What to Look Out For in a Contractor
External house repairs should be carried out by a qualified contractor. The realization that you need one is the easy part. What’s not so easy is getting one that’s qualified, as there are many scammers out there. Sometimes, telling the difference between the professionals and wannabe scammers who magically appear during disasters isn’t easy. To avoid being scammed, look for the following signs when hiring a contractor.
1. When your contractor reaches out to you instead of the other way around, this is a sign they’re pretty observant and aware of potential issues. While it may not be their place to tell you what’s wrong with your house, the fact that they’ve spotted a problem is a good indication that they can fix it.
2. If they pressure you into signing a contract, take a step back. When signing contracts, never allow yourself to be pressured. This is a happy moment, and the eagerness to sign the contract should come from you, not them. So, if you feel like they’re pressuring you, they are; proceed with utmost caution.
If the contractor wants you to pay the whole amount upfront, especially in cash, don’t. In most cases, a scammer will rush you into signing a contractor and then demand the full payment in cash before they work. They prefer cash since it doesn’t leave a paper trail that can lead fraud investigators to them.
How to Avoid Housing Repair Scams
To avoid being scammed, look for a contractor you can trust, one with a credible, transparent, and accountable track record. Run a background check on them to establish if they are genuine. Ensure they have a proper license by running it by your state’s licensing agency. Don’t pay the total amount until the work is completed.
If you have to pay in cash, wait until the entire work is done, and if you need to sign a contract, understand the terms first. Ask for references and reviews about several contractors before settling on the most recommended. You can read reviews online, but take these with a pinch of salt as some of them are manufactured by paid bloggers.
VA Specially Adapted Housing Grants
V.A. Housing grants are available for veterans or military veterans who need financial help in remodeling, altering, and modifying their houses to make them more accessible to people with specific disabilities and needs. According to DCPH-A, almost 50% of people in the military are injured annually; some of the injuries can be treated, while others may leave a soldier disabled for life. When a disabled soldier returns home from war, their life is turned upside down.
For example, if they lose their legs during a war, it means they’ll need to start using wheelchairs to move around. The VA grants help ensure easy movement around the home as one can use them for external house repairs such as asphalt paving. One can also use the funds to hire chair lift installers to remodel the house so veterans can move from one part of the house to another without asking to be pushed.
The Military Missions In Action also helps veterans who return with nothing but the clothes on their backs to acquire household goods and furniture through donations from establishments such as a home furniture store and other civilians willing to help. However, for a veteran to receive donations from MMIA, they must make a request or have a social worker request on their behalf by filling out a form. Only after verification is the veteran’s name added to a roll of other veterans awaiting similar donations.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Grants
These grants are primarily issued to people affected by emergencies or natural disasters. The aftermath of natural disasters leaves citizens hopeless and puts the local government into a fix as it grapples with restoration challenges. Thankfully, FEMA can come to the rescue with funds for both the affected individuals and the local government.
To qualify for a FEMA grant, you must be a U.S. citizen affected by a disaster and show proof of income loss. Sometimes, you may be required to provide information about your housing situation before the disaster. The money is only for external house repairs, which include repairing windows, doors, entrances to the home, and septic maintenance. You can also use it to hire HVAC contractors to repair a damaged HVAC system.
Ideally, you must file a claim with your insurer before applying for the grant. This helps ensure you receive financial assistance for losses your insurer doesn’t cover. Your application is a legal document; falsifying information may result in criminal charges proffered against you, which may result in jail time. Always provide truthful information, and don’t withhold critical details.
Community Development Block Grants
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) supports community development facilities to build more resilient communities. The program provides annual grants to counties, cities, and states so that the administrative agencies can develop decent housing. The grant provides funding to initiate projects that improve the quality of life for people with moderate or low incomes.
According to investopedia.com, since 1974, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been administering the CDBG program. The key objectives of the CDBG are to benefit low and moderate-income persons, eliminate slums, and address dire community development needs that threaten the community’s health and welfare. The program provides important resources for both state and federal governments to invest in supporting the improvement of community conditions and economic development.
The Housing Improvement Program
These grants are tailor-made for external house repairs and renovation of substandard houses. Their goal is to eliminate homelessness among American Indians or Alaskan Natives. Individuals who qualify for these grants must reside in an approved tribal service area and have a low income. In addition, one must refrain from enrolling in other housing assistance programs.
The coronavirus pandemic fueled an economic crisis that caused people to lose their homes. For a house to feel like home, it has to be well-kept and managed. Fortunately, non-profit organizations responded to the cries of those who needed help at the time and continue to do so. Some people lost jobs, others were furloughed, and once profitable companies went bankrupt. The non-profit organizations responded with grants to help the disenfranchised populace keep their homes habitable. They availed grants for external house repairs to those who qualified, relieving thousands of families in dire straits. The non-profits mentioned above have continued with this noble work. Check with the grants.gov website to see if you are eligible.