As a single mom, you work hard every day to keep your head above water. Between earning a living, chauffeuring your kids to and from activities, helping with homework, feeding them, and hoping to find some rest, your plate is full.
When you already feel like you’re hanging by a thread, the last thing you want to deal with is a home repair issue. To find the roof you work so hard to keep over your children’s heads leaking is nothing short of discouraging. Or to have bills two or three times as much as they should be due to a lack of proper insulation or other weatherization needs is stress no one wants to deal with.
It can be more than challenging for single moms who are surviving on one income to pay for home repairs when paying the bills is difficult enough. Even those who are financially stable enough to manage regular bills find it hard to come up with the extra.
Take a deep breath, momma, because there is hope. You can take care of those repairs without having to let the bills pile up, use Christmas money, or work a month’s worth of extra shifts. With a little information and guidance, you can find and access home repair help for single mothers. The following are some home improvement grants and other resources known for helping single moms and low-income families in general.
LIHEAP and WAP
The federal government offers two different programs that are directly related to the energy usage of a home: LIHEAP and WAP. LIHEAP stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and WAP stands for Weatherization Assistance Program.
Typically, LIHEAP helps households cover their energy bills, while WAP helps lower energy bills. In short, WAP can help with things like insulation, appliance replacements, and more to address the root causes of high energy bills. LIHEAP is a great option for getting assistance to cover those high bills, but there’s usually a limit on the amount of help you can get each year.
The good thing is that both LIHEAP and WAP are typically offered by the same organizations. That means that by applying, you can often get the resources you need to cover current energy bills as well as get the help you need to keep those bills low in the future.
The links in the previous paragraph give you information on how to apply. You can also speak with your local Department of Human Resources or call 211 for information on assistance.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – otherwise known as HUD – can be a useful source of help for single mothers. They provide various programs that help with home improvements, such as HOME and CDBG or Community Development Block Grant Programs.
Please note that the specifics of the program or programs offered depend on where you live. Learn more about what’s available in your area by visiting HUD’s website.
Native American Housing Improvement Program
If you belong to a federally recognized Alaskan Native or Native American tribe, the Native American Housing Improvement Program is a potential option. You can typically receive anywhere from $7,500 to $60,000 depending on the purpose of your repairs.
There are a few other requirements, such as your housing has to be substandard, you must live in a tribal service area, and specific income requirements that often change each year. This program is offered through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and you can typically get assistance with the application through leaders in your tribe.
Habitat for Humanity
Most people are familiar with Habitat for Humanity. It’s an organization that helps low-income single moms and families with housing. Typically, this means that they help build new homes, and this is a good thing to keep in mind if you’re current housing is past the point of repair.
However, Habitat for Humanity also has a Neighborhood Revitalization program that does more than just build homes. It helps build parks and community centers, rehab schools and buildings, plant gardens, add stores, and – the thing you’re here for – repair homes. You’ll need to speak to someone at your local Habitat for Humanity office to apply. Just visit their website to find the one closest to you.
Keep in mind, though, that assistance depends on grants and donations. This means that sometimes the application process closes for a few months out of the year. If you reach out at a time the assistance window is closed, set a reminder to check back in regularly.
Another thing of note about Habitat for Humanity is its chain of ReStores. These are stores that carry various new and used items, including furniture, household items, and building materials for much lower than you can find in retail stores. If you are unable to find the assistance you need for your home repairs, you can save money by purchasing the supplies you need at the Habitat ReStores.
If you served in the military and were disabled as a result, you might qualify for home repair grants through the VA. Disabilities covered typically include the loss of a limb, blindness, and similar injuries. A VA home repair grant would then cover the cost of repairs and additions needed, such as wheelchair ramps and handicap accessibility.
You probably know that if your home is damaged due to an insured incident, your insurer should cover the cost of repairs. However, many people aren’t aware of other insurance help. If you or your child have an illness, disability, or handicap that requires improved housing, your insurer might pay for a portion or all of the costs to remove health and safety hazards. You’ll need to look closely at your policy to determine if this is the case. If it is, you will need clear documentation from your doctor stating that it is a necessity.
Don’t just take a peek at federal home improvement grants and forms of assistance – you just might have all the help you need down the road. Many churches and well-meaning citizens often open up charities to help members of their community. Sometimes, they do this by partnering with federal organizations to obtain grant money. Other times, they raise funds themselves through donations, drives, and more. So take a look around at what might be in your backyard.
National Residential Improvement Association
The National Residential Improvement Association or NRIA does not provide assistance with home repairs, but it does help with vital information. It’s a well-respected third party that helps people find the assistance they need.
You can find an application on their website. Within one to two days, you’ll receive a response about various programs you might be eligible for. It never hurts to take a look, as you never know what they might have insight into.
If you find you don’t qualify for the repair grants above, don’t worry. There are other possibilities for single moms.
Home Repair Loans
Yes, you can go to the bank if you’d like for a home repair loan but that’s not what we’re referring to here. There are actually loans offered by organizations like the USDA and the FHA that are specifically for home repairs.
Repair loans such as these are great for single moms and low-income families because they are offered to people who can’t get affordable credit anywhere else and who have limited income. And they typically offer terms up to 20 years with incredibly low interest – usually around 1%. To put that in context, if you borrowed $10,000, you would only owe $100 in interest. This is definitely lower than pretty much any traditional loan.
Refinancing sounds like a scary word to many people, but it’s not always a scary thing. It simply means that you take out a new loan, pay off the old one, and have a bit left over. In this case, you would pay off your first mortgage with the new loan and use what’s left to repair your home.
Obviously, the big benefit is that you’d get your repairs taken care of, but there are other benefits to consider. The first is that your credit score might be higher now than it was when you first took out the loan. Making timely payments can definitely increase your score. And if it did increase, that would mean lower interest rates.
Another benefit is that you get a new repayment term, which can lower your monthly payment. For example, if you currently have 10 years left on your loan, you can choose to refinance for a 15-year or 30-year term, spreading your balance out over a longer period. Between the lower interest and lower monthly payments, it can leave a little extra money in your pocket each month – all while getting your home repaired.
Keep in mind that all of this does revolve around your credit score. If it’s not high enough, you might not get approved. Some people have an easier time getting approved for a HELOC or Home Equity Line of Credit.
A HELOC is a loan that is approved based on the equity you have in the home. Unlike refinancing, it does not replace your old mortgage. Instead, you have to pay your original mortgage in addition to the HELOC.
Obviously, either of these is a big decision and should only be made after exhausting all the other options above. However, when you’re in desperate need of home repairs, it’s nice to have all the potential options laid out in front of you.
Before money was ever a thing, people bartered. They traded items and services for things they wanted and needed. Though money has actually become the go-to, bartering still exists. And if you reach out to your community, you might find people willing to trade their repair skills for babysitting or housecleaning. Or maybe someone needs help clearing their garage.
The best way to find stuff like this is through community pages on social media platforms. It may seem a little odd, but it happens more often than you might think.
Talk to Local Churches
Local churches are often a great resource for help. Sometimes, they have the information you need to get the help you’re looking for. Other times, they provide that help themselves. For example, they might have some church members that donate time and materials toward helping with home repairs. Take some time to make some phone calls to congregations in your area. You never know what type of assistance you might find.
Look for Financial Assistance for Other Needs
If for any reason, you are unable to get assistance with home repairs from the various resources and ideas above, there are other options. Instead of focusing on grants and loans for home repairs, apply for help with other financial obligations.
For example, look into organizations that help with rent, utility bills, and more. You can take a look at this article for various ideas and options. Also, if you get SNAP, Medicaid, or other types of assistance – or if your income is low enough – you can cut out your phone bill by applying for EASY Wireless. Once you get assistance with your other financial obligations, you can put your money toward your home repairs.