USDA Grant Available for Home Repairs

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4By Terry Rogers

The USDA recently announced that there is grant money available for older, very low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes. The grants are also available for elderly homeowners with low income who need to remove health or safety hazards.

“The grants are for elderly individuals that are 62 years of age or older,” said Bradley King, Program Director for the Rural Development Department of USDA. “The maximum grant amount is $7,500 and maximum income to qualify for the program is based on the size of the household.”

In Kent County, a one person household must have income less than $26,550; a two-person household less than $29,850; a five person household less than $33,150; a five person household less than$35,850 and a six person household less than 38,500. In Sussex County, a one person household must make less than $21,950; two-person less than $25,050; three-person less than $28,200; four-person less than $31,300; five person less than $33,850 and six-person less than $36,350.

In addition to income requirements, the grant applicant must be the homeowner and must live in the home. They must be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere and be unable to repay a traditional loan. Funds from the grant must be used to remove health and safety hazards while also improving the home. There are also loans available for up to $20,000.

“Any type of repair that is health and safety related are covered under the grants,” said Mr. King. “Homeowners can replace roofs, install new windows, doors or siding, replace rotting decks and stairs. Homeowners have also done accessibility upgrades and replaced handrails.” Mr. King said that a home that is in need of significant repair may not be eligible, however. He said that the repair covered by the grant must make the home safe and sanitary. Cosmetic repairs are not covered under the grant although painting is sometimes approved on a case-by-case basis.

The deadline to apply for the grants is September 14, 2015. To date, only four programs in Delaware have been approved, which is why the agency is reminding homeowners of the program. According to Mr. King there is $46,731 of funding available to help low-income homeowners make necessary repairs.

In order to apply for the program, homeowners or their families should contact Janet Brittingham by phone at 302-857-3600 or by email at janet.brittingham@de.usda.gov. If contacting by phone, please leave a detailed message with return call information.