Learn About Housing Government Grants

If you are struggling to afford housing, you may qualify for financial assistance through government grants.

You may also receive assistance to help pay for bills and housing expenses. Generally, if you qualify for government assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Housing Choice Voucher Program, then you are eligible for most housing grants.

Certain grants may require that you meet eligibility requirements in addition to the low-income requirement. For example, you must be a college student to receive the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) to help pay for tuition and housing.

Additionally, there are housing grants tailored specifically for first-time home buyers and home renovations.

What is a government grant?

Government grants are financial awards given to eligible recipients for business or personal purposes, such as purchasing a home. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid. The only instance in which a government grant must be paid back, is if it was not used for its intended purpose.

For example, if a student was awarded a grant for tuition and failed to attend the minimum amount of classes required to maintain that grant. In this case, his or her grant will be converted into a loan and must be repaid.

While each grant has its own eligibility requirements, most government grants require that recipients meet certain income requirements. In fact, most grants are only available to low-income households. Additionally, there are some grants that require households to meet additional eligibility requirements, such as one senior citizen living in the home or a natural disaster declaration from the President.

The majority of housing grants are provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Housing Authority and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These grants are awarded to low-income individuals and families to help them afford taxes, insurance and closing costs associated with home buying.

Additionally, there are programs that give grants to homeowners who need help paying for repairs.

Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans

In addition to the aforementioned grants, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides housing grants for veterans and service members with service-related disabilities.

These recipients can use their grants to buy or change a home to accommodate their disabilities, ultimately allowing them to live more independently. Funds may be used to install ramps or widening doorways, depending on the recipient’s needs.

Section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Grants

Section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation grants are provided by the USDA to eligible households. In order to qualify for the grants, households must be low-income and have at least one senior citizen residing in the home. Additionally, the home must be located in a rural area as determined by the USDA.

Recipients of these grants can receive up to $7,500 to help pay for expenses related to the improvement and repair of their homes. Acceptable improvements and repairs only include those intended to make a home more accessible for disabled members and to help eliminate health or safety hazards within the home.

When applying for a Section 504 grant, a local USDA office will determine an applicant’s eligibility by assessing his or her income, citizenship status and the improvements or repairs needed for the home.

The Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

In addition to Section 502 grants, there are grants that help recipients repair or replace damaged homes or obtain temporary housing assistance after a natural disaster has occurred. These grants are provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Individuals and Households Program (IHP).

In order for eligible households to receive disaster assistance, the president must make a natural disaster declaration.

To be eligible for the IHP assistance, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a legal non-citizen
  • Live in a disaster zone as declared by the U.S. president
  • Experience losses in their primary residence related to a natural disaster
  • Be unable to live or access your home
  • Not have adequate homeowner’s insurance

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

If you cannot afford your utility bills, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides assistance with energy costs. You can receive assistance in paying your heating or cooling bills, as well as with minor energy-related repairs and improvements.

These improvements must make your home more energy efficient and help lower energy costs in your household. LIHEAP eligibility varies by state or county, but the program is generally available to you if you are low-income or receive benefits from another government assistance program.

This includes state and federal programs, such as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). If you receive housing assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, LIHEAP may cover a portion of your utilities.

Because LIHEAP receives limited funding, only about 20 percent of eligible applicants actually receive help. If you are in need of assistance, it is best that you apply for LIHEAP as soon as possible.

Financial Aid for Student Housing Assistance

Financial aid is also available to low and moderate income individuals seeking higher education. The amount a student is eligible to receive in financial aid grants is determined by his or her financial need, citizenship status and the ability to maintain academic progress while receiving aid.

This means enrolling in the minimum amount of courses per semester and maintaining passing grades. While these grants are intended to help students afford tuition, they can also be used to cover student housing.

The U.S. Department of Education administers popular grants, such as the Pell Grant and the FSEOG grant to help students pay for housing. Additionally, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is available to students who intend to become teachers.

Students may also be able to obtain grants through their own colleges and universities as long as they maintain a strong GPA.

Many non-profit organizations also provide housing grants for students. Like many other grants, students are required to meet certain requirements. Some organizations even require applicants to submit essays or personal statements in their applications. There are also funds provided to students who belong to a specific indigenous group or ethnicity.