Improving or Modernizing Your House With Home Repair Grants

In this article...
  • Do you qualify for federal government assistance for home improvement? Here's what you need to know about the Section 504 Home Repair grants and loans program.

A safe, comfortable home is a basic need, but sometimes the cost of maintaining a house is beyond the means of those with very low incomes. If your home has faulty wiring, a roof that’s falling apart or stairs you're no longer able to climb because of mobility issues, you may qualify for home improvement grants and loans to repair and modernize your home.

The Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants program is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Rural Development and is available to those living in nonmetropolitan areas.

Read on to learn how this assistance program makes home improvements more affordable for older adults, including eligibility requirements and how to apply.

Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants

The Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants program is also called the Section 504 Home Repair program. It provides financial assistance to very low-income homeowners in the form of:

  • Government grants to eliminate health and safety hazards from a residence.
  • Repair loans to fix up or modernize a residence.

For the purposes of this program, very low-income is defined as less than 50% of the median income in the area. Homeowners with this level of income might not otherwise qualify for loan assistance from traditional lenders.

Program Eligibility

To qualify for the home repair grant or loan programs, you must:

  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • Own and live in the house that's being repaired
  • Be unable to obtain affordable credit through other means
  • Reside in a rural area

Applicants for the grant programs must also be over the age of 62 and unable to repay a loan. A grant and loan combination may be available.

Why Are These Home Repair Grants and Loans for Rural Homeowners?

Homes that are in good living condition are important for the quality of life of individuals and communities.

The rate of substandard homes in rural areas is slightly higher than the national rate, according to research from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rural housing also tends to be older and in need of more repairs and maintenance than homes in metropolitan areas.

The cost of repairing homes in rural areas can be an obstacle for older adults. More than 25% of American seniors live in nonmetropolitan areas and have lower incomes than seniors nationwide. This makes it difficult for older adults to maintain their houses and improve accessibility as their mobility changes with age.

Visit the USDA website to find out if you live in an eligible rural area.

Eligible Home Repairs and Improvements

An outdated electrical system, cracked foundation and leaky roof can all make a house dangerous to live in.

The Section 504 home repair program helps ensure your home meets safety and health standards through the repair or replacement of a home's:

  • Furnace
  • Electrical system
  • Foundation
  • Siding
  • Roof
  • Windows
  • Insulation
  • Heating ducts
  • Plumbing, well and septic system

Funds may also be available to:

  • Install ramps and bars to make a home more accessible for a person with mobility issues
  • Improve energy efficiency through new insulation, doors and windows
  • Repair structural deficiencies and other hazards

How Much Assistance Is Available?

Home repair loans are provided at a 1% fixed interest rate for up to 20 years, to a maximum of $20,000. Home repair grants are available for seniors over the age of 62 who aren't able to repay a loan, to a maximum of $7,500. Seniors may also apply for a loan and grant combination up to $27,500.

Grants must be repaid if you sell your house within three years.

How to Apply

For more information and to apply for the USDA's Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants program, contact your local Rural Development office or state office.

Additional Resources

You may also qualify for federal government help for property improvement, weatherization and paying your energy bill. Visit USA.gov for more information.