Free, Sustainable Home Repair Resources for Low-Income Households

Energy Efficiency
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Founded in 2005 as an Ohio-based environmental newspaper, EcoWatch is a digital platform dedicated to publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions.

Sustainability is for everyone. But unfortunately, inequalities and financial disparities are keeping the sustainable movement at a slow-moving pace.

Research shows that low-income individuals and families could benefit the most from energy efficiency upgrades. That’s because these households are more likely to be living in unhealthy, less efficient housing environments.1 As a result, these households spend a larger portion of their income on home energy costs. The percentage of gross household income spent on energy costs is called an energy burden.

One study found that low-income households face an energy burden three times higher than other households.2

While environmentally-friendly home improvement projects — like upgrading to energy-efficient windows and HVAC systems — have been proven to save homeowners and renters a lot of money, they typically come with a hefty upfront cost not everyone can afford.

If you or someone you know is in a tough financial situation but needs some home repairs done, there’s hope. There are some free (yes, free) and low-cost home repair assistance programs available. All you have to do is apply.

Nationwide Charities and Nonprofit Organizations That Help With Home Repairs

Habitat for Humanity International

Courtesy: Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is best known for building affordable homes for new homeowners and offering affordable home furnishings through their ReStores. But the nonprofit also has a Home Preservation program to help homeowners with home repairs like painting, landscaping, weatherization and more.

  • Eligibility: Must own and live in the property, though minor repairs may be available for renters with disabilities. Must be considered low-income (at or below 80% of area median income) and in a community currently served by Habitat.
  • Best for: Homeowners, families, veterans and seniors. It may be available for renters with disabilities depending on location.
  • Program includes: Painting, landscaping, weatherization and improvements relating to health, safety and habitability.
  • Costs involved: An affordable loan is made to the homeowner to cover the cost. Payments are placed in a revolving fund to further support the program.

Visit Habitat for Humanity to find out if there’s an affiliate near you.

Rebuilding Together

Courtesy: Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together strives to create “a safe and healthy home for every person.” It started with a small group of people in Midland, Texas who wanted to show some neighborly love to those who needed some TLC for their homes but couldn’t afford it. It has since expanded to a nationwide network of affiliates and partners, corporate and individual donors, tradespersons and volunteers.

  • Eligibility: Varies by the affiliate, but Rebuilding Together mainly serves low-income households.
  • Best for: Homeowners, veterans, families, people with disabilities and older adults.
  • Program includes: Extensive repairs, rehabilitation and accessibility modification services, including flood repair, pest control, ventilation and mold removal.
  • Costs involved: Free. But, homeowners will be asked to sign a five-year, forgivable lien for the full value of home improvement services. If the house is sold within five years of project completion, Rebuilding Together will be paid back in full from home sale proceeds.

Visit Rebuilding Together for more information on how to get connected.

Coalition for Home Repair

Courtesy: Coalition for Home Repair

Coalition for Home Repair provides funding for the preservation and expansion of safe, healthy, affordable and sustainable housing by supporting home repair networks nationwide.

  • Eligibility: Must be considered low-income (at or below 80% of area median income).
  • Best for: Low-income homeowners, renters and their families, and those affected by disasters.
  • Program includes: Financial assistance with rent, mortgage or utility payments, and home repairs including roof repairs, accessibility modifications, weatherization, room additions, plumbing and electrical repairs. 
  • Costs involved: Varies by the organization.

Learn more at Coalition for Home Repair.

Modest Needs

Courtesy: Modest Needs

Modest Needs is a nonprofit organization that provides short-term financial assistance to individuals and families in temporary crisis who, because they’re just above the poverty level, may not qualify for many low-income assistance programs. Its Self-Sufficiency Grant helps recipients fund home repairs.

  • Eligibility: One adult in the household must be employed and the largest source of income must be from employment, child support payment, Veteran’s Benefits or retirement income
  • Best for: Homeowners, veterans, persons with disabilities and essential workers who are struggling financially but don’t meet the “low-income” qualifying criteria.
  • Program includes: Grants to fund emergency home repairs, equipment upgrades and disability modifications as well as medical care.
  • Costs involved: None, grants do not need to be repaid.

The Home Depot Foundation

Courtesy: The Home Depot Foundation

For years The Home Depot lived by the slogan “You can do it. We can help.” They’ve really committed to the helping side of things with the opening of The Home Depot Foundation in 2011. The foundation is dedicated to improving the homes and lives of U.S. Veterans and those impacted by natural disasters by offering grants of up to $500,000 to designated nonprofit organizations.

  • Eligibility: Must be a 501(c)(3) organization in good standing with the IRS for a minimum of one year or a tax-exempt agency run by volunteers to improve the community.
  • Best for: U.S. veterans and low-income households impacted by natural disasters.
  • Program includes: Veteran home and facility improvement, disaster preparedness and rebuilding.
  • Costs involved: None.

More information can be found at The Home Depot Foundation.

Regional and Local Home Repair Assistance

The help you need could be right in your own backyard. Do some research or reach out to community leaders to see what 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations in your area may offer home improvement assistance.

Here are some examples:

  • Alaska: The Regional Housing Authority offers its Home Repair Program for low-income tribal members.
  • Arizona: Community Home Repair provides emergency home repairs and safety modifications for low-income homeowners and those with disabilities.
  • California: The Handyworker Grant Program funds minor home repairs up to $5,000 for eligible low and moderate-income homeowners in Los Angeles County.
  • Iowa: Shelby County Community Outreach does small home repairs for the elderly, disabled and low-income individuals of Shelby County
  • Texas: The Texas Ramp Project builds wheelchair ramps for older adults and people with mobility issues.

There are dozens of programs available in all 50 states, which means we can’t list them all here (or you’d be here all day). We encourage you to do your own research. If you need somewhere to get started, DSIRE is a great database for finding incentives for renewable energy systems and efficiency upgrades.

Church Ministries That Help With Home Repairs

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities is a faith-based organization dedicated to affordable housing. It’s known for offering emergency shelters and long-term housing to vulnerable populations across the country, but some posts also support home repair efforts and technician training.

  • Eligibility: Low-income homeowners who plan to stay in the home for the next three years.
  • Best for: Hurting and low-income widows, single mothers, seniors, people with disabilities and foster families.
  • Program includes: Home repairs, accessibility modifications and room additions.
  • Costs involved: Depends on the project and location.

Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritans Purse is a faith-based ministry that assists with home repairs and rebuilds after natural disasters, like hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. For example, the organization currently has three volunteer teams in Southwest Florida to help with Hurricane Ian relief.

  • Eligibility: Must be a victim of a natural disaster
  • Best for: Those impacted by natural disasters.
  • Program includes: Home repairs, accessibility modifications and room additions.
  • Costs involved: Depends on the project and location.

Local Churches and Religious Organizations

Many religious organizations offer home repair ministries to their communities.

  • Norcross, Georgia: Home Repair Ministries provides critical home repairs and accessibility modifications for vulnerable populations, as well as home improvements for families housing foster children.
  • Gordonville, Pennsylvania: Handyman Ministries has several full-time and several part-time workers that assist widows or vulnerable persons, charging only for materials needed for the job.
  • Jacksonville, Florida: Hartfelt Ministries builds mobility modifications, like wheelchair ramps and grab bars, to help seniors stay in their homes longer. All projects are paid for through The Hart Fund.

Federal Government Home Repair Grants 

From coast to coast, eligible U.S. homeowners can get access to free or low-cost home improvement projects through various government programs.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

LIHEAP assists families with energy costs and provides funding to reduce costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization and minor energy-related home repairs. It’s important to note that LIHEAP grants are not given directly to homeowners, but rather to states, territories and federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations who then assist households in need.

  • Eligibility: States can set their own requirements, but recipients cannot make more than 60% of the state median income. They must also give higher benefits to households with the greatest home energy needs concerning household income and the number of household members.
  • Best for: Homeowners, renters, families, seniors and persons with disabilities.
  • Program includes: Heating, cooling and energy crises assistance, low-cost weatherization and energy-related home repair.
  • Costs involved: No additional costs.

You can find more information about LIHEAP here.

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offers the Weather Assistance Program (WAP) to reduce energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. Through weatherization improvements and upgrades, these households save on average $372 or more every year.3

  • Eligibility: Varies by state, but recipients must make 60% or less of the state-median income. Renters are eligible with permission from their landlord.
  • Best for: Seniors, families with one or more persons with disabilities, families with children or high-energy users.
  • Program includes: Home energy audit to identify problem areas, corresponding work with may include:
  • Costs involved: No additional costs.

Read more about how to apply for weatherization assistance here.

U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) Grants

HUD provides multiple free home repair and disaster relief grants to supporting organizations that then disperse funds to low-income families in their service areas.

  • Eligibility: Varies by location, must meet minimum low-income requirements
  • Best for: Low-income families, seniors and persons with disabilities
  • Program includes: Minor to major home improvement repairs, 
  • Costs involved: Varies depending on the project.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Grant (USDA) Section 504 Program

Also referred to as the Single Family Housing Repair Loan and Grant Program, Section 504 provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or to low-income seniors to remove health and safety hazards in their home. The maximum loan is $40,000 and the maximum grant is $10,000, but loans and grants can be combined for up to $50,000 in assistance.

  • Eligibility: You must be a homeowner living in the house, have a household income under the county limit and have proof of not being able to repay a repair loan or obtain affordable credit elsewhere and live in a rural area (defined here). To receive the grant, you must be over the age of 62.
  • Best for: Seniors and families living in rural areas.
  • Program includes: Any home improvement upgrade, including:
  • Costs involved: Maximum loan amount is $40,000, loans will need to be paid back. Grants up to $10,000 are available to eligible applicants.

Get more information on Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants here

USDA Housing Preservation Grants

This program provides sponsoring organizations with grants intended for the repair or rehabilitation of housing owned or occupied by low- and very-low-income rural citizens. USDA currently offers up to $16,000,000 in Housing Preservation Grant Program funding for the repair and rehabilitation of rural housing units.

  • Eligibility: State and local governments and tribes in rural areas and towns with 20,000 or fewer people. Entities will award grants to low-income households who earn less than 80% of the area median income.
  • Best for: Homeowners in rural areas.
  • Program includes:
    • Repairing or replacing electrical wiring
    • Home foundations
    • Roofs
    • Insulation
    • Heating systems
    • Water/waste disposal systems
    • Handicap Accessibility features
  • Costs involved: None.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203K Loans

The FHA 203K Loan program will help you buy or remodel your home with a single, long-term fixed or adjustable rate mortgage.

  • Eligibility: Renovation expenses must be at least $5,000.
  • Best for: Homeowners and homebuyers, families and persons with disabilities.
  • Program includes:
    • Structural alterations, reconstruction or modernization
    • Elimination of health and safety hazards
    • Reconditioning or replacing plumbing and wastewater
    • Adding or replacing roofing, gutters and downspouts.
    • Adding or replacing floors
    • Major landscape work
    • Accessibility improvements
    • Energy conservation improvements
  • Costs involved: Recipients will be responsible for paying back the loan.

Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Specially Adapted Housing & Special Housing Adaptation.

The VA offers various mechanisms of support for those who have served our country, including the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) and Special Housing Adaptation(SHA) Grants. SAH helps veterans with service-related disabilities who want to build a specially adapted home on land they own, while SHA funds mobility-related improvements to an existing home where the veteran resides.

  • Eligibility: Must be a military veteran who suffered a disability from service.
  • Best for: Veterans with disabilities.
  • Program includes: Funding for building a specially adapted home or making mobility-related upgrades to an existing home.
  • Costs involved: Grant can cover up to $44,000 of repairs, recipient will be responsible for any costs involved that the grant doesn’t cover.

Visit the VA website for more information.

Financial Resources for Homeowners

Being a homeowner is challenging for anyone, but it is even more challenging for those of us struggling financially or with disabilities. But making essential home improvements and energy efficiency upgrades shouldn’t be a luxury only the wealthy can afford.

Having a sustainable home is critical for your personal health, as well as the health of your family and the planet. Here are some more EcoWatch resource guides that may be helpful to you.

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