rehab assistance: overview

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.