Many Americans find themselves requiring home improvements at some point in their life. This might mean modifying the home to improve accessibility or to adapt to the needs of senior citizens, or it can mean making improvements to the home's energy efficiency to reduce bills and protect the environment. Regardless of the reasons these home modifications are needed, it goes without saying that making improvements to the home can be expensive.
Here are the costs of some common home repairs:
- Boiler repairs: $350 for repairs, $4,000 for replacements
- Furnace repairs: $267 for repairs, $4,376 for replacements
- Garage door repairs: $210 for repairs, up to $1,500 for replacements
- Roof repairs: $653 for repairs, $6,626 for replacements
- Window replacements: $248 per pane
For seniors and disabled persons, home modifications can sometimes be even more expensive. Many require additions to the home, such as chairlifts, stairwell handrails, and wheelchair ramps, which can end up costing thousands of dollars to install.
Luckily, there's an array of private and government home improvement grants available that help those who need them to cover these costs. Searching for grants online can be overwhelming. Home improvement grants are available privately and through government agencies, and each grant has different qualification requirements and covers different expenses. We've collected information about grants that can help you or a loved one improve their home, making it more comfortable to live in, more accessible, or even more affordable.
Grants and Programs for Seniors and Disabled Persons
Area Agencies on Aging exist to connect seniors with state and local resources that can help them live independently in their own homes and delay the need for institutional care. While services vary from county to county, most offers some form of assistance with home modifications or the installation of assistive technology.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Assisted Living Conversion Program provides grants for home modifications that are required to accommodate the mobility needs of frail elderly persons in assisted living facilities. To receive this grant, elderly residents must have a disability with a functional limitation.
Assistive Technology Programs are operated under the federal Technology-Related Services for Individuals With Disabilities Act. These programs often provide home modifications for disabled persons and, in some cases, work with partner agencies to provide financial help to disabled renters and homeowners.
Medicaid enables each state to provide beneficiaries with HCBS waivers that cover services within the home for seniors and disabled individuals. While each state's HCBS waivers differ, most include some coverage for home modifications. To qualify for Medicaid, applicants must be below their state's income threshold and be either 65 years of age or older or living with a severe disability.
Medicare Advantage helps seniors pay for healthcare costs, including hospital care and primary care. Under some plans, home modifications are covered for those who need them. That can include the installation of wheelchair ramps, widening doorways, and installing bars in showers or other areas of the home to help with mobility.
Provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Older Adults Home Modification Grant Program helps seniors install necessary equipment such as shower handrails and chair lifts, as well as make modifications to their current environment to improve mobility. To qualify for funding, applicants must be low-income homeowners and at least 62 years of age.
The Travis Roy Foundation Quality of Life Grant provides funding for home modifications for quadriplegics and paraplegics. The maximum amount awarded is $5,000 and to qualify, applicants must be paralyzed from a physical spinal cord injury and unable to walk. This grant is only open to residents of the U.S.
The Accessible Home Modifications program provides services including consulting, design, and construction for disabled individuals who can’t afford the cost of their own modifications. The program covers costs for products such as handicap ramps, automatic door openers, ceiling track lifts, and stairlifts.
Low-Income Grants and Programs for Families and Individuals
Community Development Block Grant Colonias Set-Aside
Open to residents of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, the Colonias Set-Aside provides funding to low-income families to ensure their homes are safe to live in. Grants are provided to help increase potable water supply, improve sewer systems, and ensure that housing is safe and sanitary.
The Disaster Recovery Program operates in low-income areas where presidentially declared disasters have occurred. The program provides flexible grants to state and municipal agencies to help low-income families repair damages to their homes and ensure they're able to continue living in safe, sanitary conditions.
Habitat for Humanity relies on volunteers and donated materials to help low-income needy families make home repairs and modifications. This program strictly applies to home exteriors and to qualify, families must be willing to help with labor and live in safe, well-maintained homes.
Modest Needs is a nonprofit organization that helps low-income workers with emergency expenses, such as home repairs and modifications. To qualify for a Modest Needs grant, applicants must have at least one employed household member and the family must be considered low-income.
With local affiliates located across the U.S., Rebuilding Together helps more than 10,000 families annually. This organization works with people in need who require home improvements to make their space more accessible and easier to navigate when a family member is living with a disability. Because each affiliate has different qualification requirements, interested homeowners should contact their nearest location to determine eligibility.
Homeowners with an income that's below 50% of their area's median income can qualify for a loan of up to $20,000 or a grant up to $7,500 to cover the cost of home repairs, modernizations, or modifications. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this loan is exclusive to those living in rural areas who are aged 62 or older. Funds can only be used to pay for home improvements or to remove safety and health hazards from the property.
Housing Preservation Grants are provided to low and very low-income rural citizens to help cover the cost of home repairs and restorations. To qualify for this grant, homeowners must be represented by an agency such as a local or state government entity, federally recognized tribe, or a nonprofit organization.
Volunteers of America works with low-income families in communities all over the U.S. It provides free labor and low-cost or donated materials to help build affordable housing and conduct necessary home repairs.
The Department of Energy operates the Weatherization Assistant Program, which issues grants to low-income homeowners and renters to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. Funds can be used to improve insulation, replace or repair windows and doors, install efficient electricity and light sources, or replace appliances that are energy-draining.
Grants and Programs for Native American Communities
The Housing Improvement Program is open to members of federally recognized American Indian tribes or natives of Alaska. It provides up to $60,000 for repairs and renovations to help homeowners ensure their homes meet building codes, as well as up to $7,500 for interim improvements to repair conditions that affect the health and safety of occupants.
Grants and Programs for Veterans and Active Military Members
Working in partnership with military aid societies, the American Red Cross provides emergency financial assistance for military families, including members of the National Guard or Reserves and military retirees and their spouses. Funding can be used for urgent home repairs, as well as emergency food, shelter, or travel.
The ARCP is available to active and retired military personnel who've been wounded in combat. It provides funding and other resources to help its beneficiaries cover costs associated with rehabilitation and transitioning back into their own communities. That can include home modifications and renovations that accommodate associated disabilities.
Gary Sinise R.I.S.E. provides home modifications and mobility devices for injured, wounded, and aging veterans. It also provides specially adapted smart homes mortgage-free for post 9/11 defenders. There are no specific qualification requirements for this program and help is determined on a case-by-case basis.
HISA grants exist exclusively to help veterans and service members make home alterations that improve accessibility. That includes improving entrance ways, upgrading plumbing or electrical systems to accommodate medical equipment, and installing safety equipment in washrooms. A $6,800 lifetime benefit is only available to those who have a service-connected condition or a condition that's at least 50% service-connected. Veterans with a non-service-connected condition may qualify for up to $2,000.
Operation Homefront provides funding for military families that to help them make home repairs and modifications when necessary. Most commonly, this charity organization offers assistance to those who've been wounded in combat or who've sustained other service-related injuries.
Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) and Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grants are available for Veterans and their dependents. These grants exist to help disabled beneficiaries make modifications to their homes, such as adding wheelchair ramps, widening doorways, or adding handrails. To qualify for these grants, recipients must own the home or be in the process of transferring ownership of the home to themselves, and they must have a qualifying service-connected disability. As of 2021, these grants ranged from $20,215 up to $100,896, depending on the level of need and the type of grant.
TRA grants are provided to families of injured or disabled veterans when a veteran must live there temporarily. These grants are similar to SHA and SAH grants in their funding amounts and qualification requirements.
Home modifications are often necessary and for some American families, they're out of reach financially. The high cost of materials, along with costs such as design, consulting, and installation, add up quickly. Unfortunately for some, this means that necessary modifications that accommodate those with disabilities, as well as repairs to improve the safety of the home, are often neglected.
If you're in need of help to pay for modifications to your home, the resources above may be of use. Whether you're hoping to make your home more energy-efficient or you require modifications to ensure the safety of yourself or a loved one as they move throughout the home, these resources are designed to make sure you have access to the funds you need to carry out this necessary work.