Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance
Goal: Increase the Availability of Affordable Homes
Role: Help Residents Succeed
Policy: Provide Homeowner Rehab Assistance

What is homeowner rehab assistance?

Homeowner rehabilitation (rehab) assistance programs provide low- and moderate-income homeowners with grants or low-cost loans to improve the physical condition of their home. The primary goal of rehab assistance programs is to enable income-eligible homeowners to make critical repairs to improve the safety and health of their living environment. Owner-occupied single-family homes, condominiums, manufactured homes, and homes with four or fewer rental units (with one unit occupied by the owner) are generally eligible for assistance under such programs.

Repairs can range from efforts to bring the property up to code, fix a leaky roof, or remedy faulty wiring, to upgrades that improve residential energy efficiency or home accessibility. Some states and localities also have special programs to fund repairs on an emergency basis if the condition of a home immediately threatens the health and safety of its occupants.

Portland Place, Minneapolis MN -- Photo courtesy of LHB, Inc.

The majority of homeowner rehab programs are administered at the state and local levels and are funded with federal HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. These flexible funding sources are designed to enable states and participating jurisdictions [1] to distribute resources for rehab assistance according to local needs or economic conditions. Each year, approximately $275 million in HOME funds and $548 million in CDBG funds are spent on homeowner rehab assistance programs. [2] At the local level, some jurisdictions supplement federal funds with other sources of revenue to extend the breadth of assistance they can provide.

Why is homeowner rehab assistance important?

Homeowners who live in older homes tend to have greater home repair needs than homeowners in more modern units. Homeowners that struggle to make ends meet may delay making repairs in order to cover more immediate costs, such as mortgage payments, utility bills, and property taxes. Eventually, this deferred maintenance may compromise the condition of the home.

For many income-eligible households, homeowner rehab assistance programs provide the means to make essential home improvements. At the neighborhood level, support for home improvements can prevent blight and stabilize neighborhoods by bringing properties up to code and reduce hazards that can negatively impact nearby properties.

Where are homeowner rehab assistance programs applicable?

Homeowner rehab assistance programs are designed to improve substandard housing, and can be implemented anywhere that homes may be in need of repair. They can also be customized to meet a range of state and local objectives. For example, in disaster-prone regions, assistance can be targeted to reinforce properties to withstand storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters, or to repair affected homes. In areas with large older adult populations, programs can be designed to provide assistance to improve home accessibility. All communities can benefit from assistance geared towards undertaking energy efficiency improvements, which can reduce greenhouse gas consumption, improve indoor environmental quality, and lower overall home operating costs.

Learn more about how homeowner rehab assistance programs are funded.

Greater Grays Ferry Estates
Learn more about programs that use homeowner rehab assistance to improve accessibility, energy efficiency and disaster resistance.

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[1] Participating jurisdictions are defined by HUD as "states or units of general local government, including consortia and urban counties."
[2] Coordinating Homeowner Assistance: Weatherization and Housing Rehabilitation. [PDF] 2010. By Spencer Cowan and William Rowe. Communities & Banking. Boston, MA: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Goal: Increase the Availability of Affordable Homes
Role: Help Residents Succeed
Policy: Provide Homeowner Rehab Assistance

Using homeowner rehab assistance to improve accessibility, energy efficiency and disaster-resistance

Some communities offer homeowner rehab assistance programs that help to achieve more targeted goals beyond ensuring the habitability of low- and moderate-income families' homes. For example, some programs support home modifications that enable older adults to stay in their homes as they age; others are aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of existing homes to improve indoor environmental quality and lower utility bills. In disaster-prone areas, homeowner rehab programs can target efforts to reinforce properties to withstand storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Photo Credit: Rick Keating, courtesy of King County Housing Authority
Click on the links below to learn more about programs that use homeowner rehab assistance to improve:

Accessibility - Rehab assistance programs can be designed to remove physical barriers inside the home.

Energy efficiency - Many home improvements can help homeowners save energy and long-term energy costs.

Disaster Resistance - Homeowner rehab programs can target upgrades to mitigate damage to homes in disaster-prone areas.


The number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to more than double from 40 million to 81 million by 2040. [1] As they age, many adults face physical barriers to maintaining or getting around their home. Home modifications help to address these barriers, which may be associated with using the stairs, entering and exiting, bathing, and meeting other daily needs. Modifications help to ensure that staying in ones' home remains a safe and viable option.

For some older households, however, home modifications can also be extremely cost prohibitive, and emerging evidence suggests that the housing market downturn may discourage older adults from moving to a new home that might better fit their physical needs. [2]

Homeownership rehab assistance or emergency repair funds can encourage safe aging in place by reducing or eliminating the cost of modifications necessary for residents to stay in their home. Some programs specifically target home modifications for older adults; in other cases, modifications may be eligible for assistance if the planned improvements bring the property up to code standards or if the condition of the property poses safety hazards. In Tallahassee, Florida, for example, the Emergency Home Repair Program (EHRP) supports emergency repairs and accessibility improvements to homes owned and occupied by income-eligible persons. Up to $10,000 in grants can be made available for accessibility improvements that include wheelchair ramps, hand railings, grab bars, kitchen and bathroom adaptations, or doorway widening. Click here to leave this site and read more about EHRP.

Click here to leave this section and read more about home modifications for older adults.

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Energy efficiency

Between 2005 and 2008, home utility costs rose by nearly 23 percent, more than double the rate of overall inflation. [3] For low- and moderate-income families that live in older, less efficient homes, energy-saving improvements -- such as installing energy efficient windows, sealing air leaks, adding insulation and other general weatherization measures -- can yield significant long-term utility savings. Many families, however, cannot afford the up-front costs associated with these repairs.

While many homeownership rehab assistance programs only cover the costs associated with energy saving home improvements that may be necessary to help bring a property up to code, other homeowner rehab assistance programs specifically target energy efficiency retrofits. For example, the Energy Efficiency Rehabilitation Assistance Program (EERAP) in New Haven, CT offers financial assistance for low- and moderate- income homeowners, or owners of low- and moderate- income rental homes (for buildings with 1-4 units), to undertake weatherization activities and other home repairs that improve home energy efficiency. Funding ranges from $10,000- $25,000 in the form of low-interest deferred loans. Click here for more information about EERAP.

In addition to being available through homeowner rehab assistance programs, assistance for low- and moderate-income homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements is also available through the Department of
The Weatherization, Rehab, and Asset Preservation (WRAP) demonstration program, launched in 2002, tested the feasibility of leveraging homeowner rehab assistance by coordinating rehab funds with assistance from two federal energy efficiency programs: the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program, and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). An evaluation of the demonstration project, implemented in 11 communities, identified impediments to using the funds in a coordinated manner, including variation in the programs' income eligibility thresholds and the agencies charged with administering the programs and mismatched timelines for funding and expenditures across programs.

Although these barriers hindered efforts to coordinate funding sources, the study emphasized the importance of such efforts. Low-income homeowners benefit from combining multiple forms of assistance in part because on their own, the existing programs are not comprehensive enough to meet the full range of home rehab and weatherization needs. Data gathered during the evaluation found positive impacts of WRAP retrofits. Home improvements increased the usable area of the rehabbed homes by almost one-fifth, increasing access to rooms that had previously been closed off due to cold conditions in the winter. In addition, over 70 households reported increased safety and health of occupants after rehab and weatherization efforts.

Click here to read more about federal programs to improve home energy efficiency.
Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Department of Health and Human Services' Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Please view the text box to learn about efforts to coordinate homeownership rehab assistance programs with WAP and LIHEAP (see blue text box).

Click here to leave this section and read more about improving residential energy efficiency.

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Disaster Resistance

Homeowner rehab programs can target upgrades to mitigate damage to homes in areas vulnerable to weather-related hazards. There are a range of building, rehab and retrofitting options that can make homes more resilient to high winds, heavy rains and floods. This includes strengthening roofs and windows for wind resistance; raising homes that lie in the floodplain or other vulnerable areas; creating mechanisms that help divert or mitigate the damage of flood waters; making homes more water resistance to rain and floods.

States and localities can offer a range of homeowner rehab programs to assist low- and moderate-income households that may have difficulty paying for the necessary home mitigation measures. For example, the Florida's My Safe Florida Home program provides grants to individual households to cover or defray the costs of retrofits to help prevent hurricane damage to the home. Click here to leave this site and read more about My Safe Florida program.

Click here to leave this section and learn more about making homes resistant to natural disasters.

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Programs that use homeowner rehab assistance to improve accessibility, energy efficiency and disaster resistance.

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Funding sources for homeowner rehab assistance programs

[1] Projections of the Population by Selected Age Groups and Sex for the United States: 2010–2050. Aug. 14, 2008. Table 2. Washington, DC: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.
[2] Effect of the Economy on Housing Choices. [PDF] 2009. By Jean Koppen. Washington, DC: AARP.
Housing Affordability Trends for Working Households: Affordability Worsens Despite Decline in Home Prices. [PDF] 2009. By
Keith Wardrip. Washington, DC: Center for Housing Policy.

Goal: Increase the Availability of Affordable Homes
Role: Help Residents Succeed
Policy: Provide Homeowner Rehab Assistance

Funding Sources

Most states and participating jurisdictions provide homeowner rehab assistance through one of two channels: (i) deferred payment and non-interest bearing loans or (ii) grants and in-kind assistance. Interest subsidies and loan guarantees are other forms of financial assistance to support homeowner rehab efforts.

Chatham Square
Photo courtesy of ULI Development Case Studies

Click on the links below to learn more about different sources of homeowner rehab assistance:

Deferred payment loans and non-interest bearing loans

Grants and in-kind assistance

Deferred payment loans and non-interest bearing loans

Deferred payment loans and non-interest bearing loans are low-cost loans that enable the borrower to defer repayment with no or very low interest, typically upon sale of the home.
  • In Minnesota, the HOME Consortium, a coalition of three counties that distributes HOME funds to participating jurisdictions, offers a Homeowner Rehabilitation Deferred Loan, a no-interest deferred loan of up to $20,000 for households earning below 80 percent of area median income. The funds can be used for priority home improvements that are critical to the safety of the home, such as roof or window replacements and plumbing repairs. There are no monthly payments and the loan is repayable upon sale or transfer of the property. Click here to leave this site and learn more about the Minnesota HOME Consortium.
  • The Nevada Housing Division distributes funds from the state's Low Income Housing Trust Fund to participating localities to match federal HOME dollars for homeownership rehab assistance. The Rural Nevada Development Corporation (RNDC), one recipient of the state’s trust fund resources, provides deferred loans for home rehab assistance to households in rural Clark County, Nevada. The deferred loan does not accrue interest or require monthly payments, but must be repaid when the property is sold or is no longer the primary residence of the homeowner. Click here to leave this site read more about the state program and work in Clark County.

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Grants and in-kind assistance

Unlike borrowers who benefit from low-cost loans, grant recipients are not expected to repay funds. Grants can take a number of forms, including forgivable loans that do not need to be repaid if the borrower remains in the home for a set period of time. Providing in-kind assistance, including donation of materials and labor, is another common approach to making critical home repairs. The national non-profit organization, Rebuilding Together, is a leading organization that provides volunteer-based homeowner rehab services for low-income families in communities across the U.S.
  • In Casper, Wyoming, the Housing and Community Development Division partners with a faith-based volunteer group to rehabilitate homes for homeowners for one week each year. Homeowners must apply to receive volunteer services for home repair and approximately 20 homes are selected annually. Volunteers replace roofs, windows, exterior doors, storm windows and storm doors, paint home exteriors, repair fences, or build ramps for persons who need wheelchair accessibility to their home. Equipment and supplies are paid for by the city using CDBG funds. Click here for more information about Casper's grant program.
  • The City of Lake Charles, Louisiana uses HOME funds to provide rehab or reconstruction grants to eligible homeowners. When the cost of repairs exceeds the available grant funding, the homeowner may supplement the grant award with private funds that they secure independently. The grant program funds are available to elderly, disabled, and single-parent headed households. Click here for more information on the Lake Charles Rehabilitation or Reconstruction Grant Program [PDF].
  • Irvine, California offers one-time grants of up to $5,000 to eligible homeowners. The funds are set aside for emergency code-related repairs that are necessary to prevent injury to occupants, such as leaky roofs, faulty wiring or plumbing. Click here to learn more about the City of Irvine's Residential Repair Program.
  • Through its Home-Owner Rehabilitation Program, the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation (KHRC), a subsidiary of the Kansas Development Finance Authority, distributes HOME funds to localities to provide no-interest loans to income-eligible homeowners. Local municipalities distribute the assistance in the form of deferred loans for emergency and exterior repairs. The loans are non-interest bearing and require repayment only if the property is sold within three years.
In 2008-2009, KHRC awarded $1.925 million to nine communities for rehab of 77 homes. Currently, 29 communities are implementing affordable owner-occupied housing rehab programs with approximately $5.5 million of HOME funds. Click here to read more about KHRC.

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Funding sources for homeowner rehab assistance programs

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Greater Grays Ferry EstatesPrograms that use homeowner rehab assistance to improve accessibility, energy efficiency and disaster resistance.