Learn About Housing Government Grants

There is a variety of government grants available to low-income families or individuals.

Especially for the households that are already receiving assistance from a state or federal assistance program such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Housing Choice Voucher Program and Medicaid health insurance. These grants can provide low-income families with invaluable assistance and aid to pay for certain household bills or education expenses for college or other education opportunities.

What is a Government Grant?

Government grants are essentially free money that does not usually need to be repaid. Each type of grant contains its own eligibility requirements, but government grants typically require income eligibility conditions. Most grants are only available to low-income households, but there are other eligibility factors for some grants. Some grants require specific family compositions, a senior citizen in the home or are provided after the declaration of a natural disaster by the president.

Do grants need to be repaid?

Government grants do not usually need to be repaid, so long as they are used for the purpose in which they are intended. For example, if a student received a financial aid grant from the government, but did not attend the minimum amount of classes no longer met eligibility requirements, these grants would be changed to loans. In cases such as these, the grant would need to be repaid.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides low-income families with invaluable heating and cooling assistance. LIHEAP aid can help households with payment for heating or cooling bills, bills to prevent home utility service shutdowns and/or certain low-income home improvements. The approved improvements must be able to make a home more energy efficient to lower overall utility bills for the household. This process is also referred to as weatherization. While LIHEAP funds are not eligible for water and sewage bills, this assistance can help reduce or eliminate the cost of electricity and heating bills.

While some of LIHEAP’s eligibility requirements will vary by state or county, LIHEAP assistance is generally available to households that meet income requirements or already receiving assistance through state and federal programs such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8). Families that receive assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program may be able to receive help through LIHEAP for the portion of eligible utilities that beneficiaries are expected to pay.

To apply for LIHEAP, locate your local LIHEAP office in order to submit an application. It is recommended that you do so as soon as possible if your household needs assistance, as only about 20 percent of households that qualify for LIHEAP receive help. This is due to the fact that LIHEAP has a specific amount of funds each year and once those funds have been diminished, LIHEAP must wait for Congress to provide more funds before they can continue to provide assistance.

The Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

After the president makes a declaration for a natural disaster, households may be eligible for disaster assistance and grant assistance. These disaster-related grants are provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through a program that is referred to as the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). Approved grants can then be used to repair or replace damaged residences or obtain temporary housing assistance.

In order to be considered for IHP assistance, you must be a United States citizen or a qualified non-citizen and:

  • You must have experienced losses in the area that was declared as a disaster zone by the United States president.
  • The property that you experienced losses to must be your primary residence and damages must be related to the natural disaster.
  • You are unable to live in or access your primary residence.
  • You do not have insurance coverage or your insurance does not provide enough coverage for this incident.

To submit an IHP application you will need to contact FEMA for further instructions.

Section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Grants

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation grants to eligible applicants. The grants are available to very low-income households that would be unable to repay a Section 504 loan and have at least one senior citizen living within the home. Additionally, the grant is for home in rural areas determined by the USDA.

This grant provides up to $7,500 in grant assistance that can be used towards home improvements and repairs. However, this type of funding is only usable for improvements and repairs that remove a health or safety hazard or make a home more accessible for disabled household members.

You can apply for the Section 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation grant assistance through your local USDA office in which they will determine your households eligibility based upon citizenship, income, the repairs or improvement in question, household makeup and whether or not you own the home.

Financial Aid for Low-Income Students

Financial aid is also available to low-income families who would like to seek a higher education. While there are a number of student financial aid grants available, eligibility is often determined by:

  • Financial need.
  • Citizenship status. Applicants must be either a United States citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Good standing with any other federal student loans, if applicable.
  • Acceptance for an eligible degree or certificate program.
  • The maintenance of adequate academic progress when receiving financial aid grants

Additionally, some types of grants may require that you are working towards a specific type of degree or that you attend specific types of classes. An example of this is the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants. This type of financial aid is only available to individuals who intend to become a teacher in a high demand field. Additionally, recipients must agree to additional requirements such as that they complete four academic years within eight years after completing their higher education in which they will teach at an elementary school, secondary school or an educational service agency.

To apply for a student grant, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) before the academic deadline in order to determine your need for financial aid and review what types of financial aid, including grants, may be available to you.

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