What to do when you can’t afford a home repair

If you needed to have your furnace or pipes repaired after this recent cold snap, you are not alone. According to a study conducted last year by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, approximately $ 300 billion is spent annually in the United States on home renovations and maintenance.

This number is expected to be even higher, however. Many repairs are not repaired every year.

According to another 2013 study, this one from the National Center for Healthy Housing, 35 million metropolitan homes in the United States, or 40%, contain one or more health and safety hazards. The most common repairs that are not fixed? Exterior water leaks, which affect 11% of homes in the metro area, followed by openings in homes that mice can tap (10%) and interior water leaks (9%). Meanwhile, 5% of homes in cities and suburbs have unrepaired roofing issues, damaged interior walls, and foundation issues.

So what happens when you have a problem at home that needs attention but you don’t have the funds to fix it? You can’t do anything, of course, and live with your problem. But there may be more options available than you think.

Apply for a loan. You can laugh at first, especially if your credit is poor or your bank has already turned you down for a loan, but there are nonprofits designed to help low-income and middle-class homeowners, says Douglas Robinson. , spokesperson for NeighborWorks, a congressional nonprofit that supports community development in the United States.

“There aren’t billions of dollars out there, but there are millions of dollars out there,” Robinson says.

These loans generally finance repairs of not dismal but crucial infrastructure to your home. In other words, you are much more likely to find money to repair your roof, replace your furnace, or improve your ventilation than you will find money for a new oven or refrigerator.

NeighbourWorks itself does not distribute loans, but you can find loans through its network of housing organizations, like Homewise Inc. in Santa Fe, NM, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, and 233 other non-profit organizations. independent nonprofit serving 4,500 communities across the United States.

On the NeighborWorks website, www.nw.org, you can go to the right side of the screen and click on “Find a neighboring organization”, which will take you to a page where you can type in your state or zip code. and search for nonprofits that may have loans available.

Robinson also suggests researching your local community development financial institution and seeking their advice and possibly financial assistance. “They’re all over the country, and not everyone will be qualified, but if we’re talking about something that’s not great and you have time to do your homework, it’s probably a good way to go. “, says Robinson. You can find community development finance institutions at ofn.org/cdfi-locator.

If your income is at poverty level (typically a family of four living on $ 23,050 or less is considered to be living on or below the poverty line), there is another organization you should know about: Rebuilding Together (rebuildingtogether. org), which specializes in repairing the homes of low-income people. (Finding a local Rebuilding Together chapter on the website can be difficult; you’d probably be better off searching for “Rebuilding Together” and your location.)

Refinancing. Specifically, with a 203k refinance loan from the Federal Housing Administration. These are loans in which the owner consolidates their existing mortgage and the cost of a home improvement project.

As long as the repairs are deemed necessary (like a new floor) and not frivolous (like a new patio) and add value to your home, you may have a good chance of getting the loan. Your local mortgage lender can help you apply.

Find out if you are eligible for a grant. Yes, free money. And, yes, good luck with that. But the subsidies, even if they are not abundant, do exist.

For example, Stephanie Irto, broker and realtor at Equity Builders Home Financing and Real Estate in Los Angeles, notes that if you live on the Los Angeles International Airport flight path, there is currently a program in which owners can apply for around $ 30,000 worth of work including projects like installing soundproofing, double wall modifications (no surprise, given the location of the house), service panel upgrades electrical, chimney and chimney modifications and the installation of a heating, ventilation and air system. packaging system.

Some cities, like Detroit and Tucson, Arizona, have even run occasional lotteries, where residents can apply for a home repair grant and hope their name is selected. These lotteries are rare, but it is worth watching them.

The United States Department of Agriculture has what it calls the Very Low Income Home Repair Program, which provides loans and grants to homeowners to repair, improve, or upgrade their homes. The ministry also offers the Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Grant, which is available to homeowners 62 and over; funds can be used for repairs to improve health, safety or to make the home accessible to a resident with a disability.

As you can imagine, the best way to find out about these grants is to do some research online and see what you have to offer, or talk to someone in your community who might know about accommodation in your area. local nonprofit, chamber of commerce, your bank or your local Ministry of Housing and Urban Development office. HUD office workers may be able to direct you to an agency or nonprofit that can help you – or they may be able to help you get a block grant for community development, money that goes towards everything from affordable housing to home repairs.

But whatever you do, “Try not to make a rash decision about how you’re going to fund your repairs,” Robinson insists.

Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you don’t have a working heater and a polar vortex is staring you in the face, a high interest loan can start to look pretty appealing. But if you are in a situation where you have time before a home repair becomes an emergency, use that time to organize a group looking for money. There is home repair help out there – somewhere.

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About Coy Lewallen

Coy Lewallen

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