Low-income families and individuals have the opportunity to benefit from a variety of government housing assistance grants. Households that already receive assistance from other state or federal assistance programs can greatly benefit from government housing grants. This includes individuals and families participating in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), the Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8) and Medicaid for health insurance. The grants provided by these government housing programs can provide vital assistance to low-income households who are struggling to pay for rent and other necessary expenses.
What are government grants?
Beneficiaries who receive government grants are essentially getting all the free assistance that they are eligible to receive. Each type of government grant has a specific set of eligibility criteria, however most guidelines are income-based. Housing grants are those that are specifically designed to help beneficiaries find and afford safe, hygienic and affordable housing in their area. Most grants target low-income individuals and families, but there may be other specific eligibility criteria for certain programs. For example, some housing grants target families with elderly members or members who are military veterans.
Do beneficiaries need to pay back federal grants?
In most cases, government grants do not need to be repaid as long as they are utilized appropriately by the beneficiaries. For example, students who receive federal subsidies for financial aid on tuition must continue to meet eligibility requirements and attend the minimum amount of classes. Students who fail to meet the established eligibility guidelines will have their grants changed to loans which must be repaid.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Overview
Low income families and households that require assistance to heat or cool their homes can benefit from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The funds from LIHEAP benefits can be used to pay for heating and cooling bills, which can become incredibly costly in the hotter and colder areas of the country. The benefits from LIHEAP can also be used to prevent the shutdown of home utilities if a household family is at risk.
In addition to paying bills, the funds from LIHEAP can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to low income homes. LIHEAP benefits can only be utilized for home improvements if the changes will make the home more energy efficient and lower the total heating and cooling utility charges for the family. This process of improvement is called weatherization of a building. Although LIHEAP can be used for utilities, the assistance funds are not eligible to be used on water or sewage bills. Generally, LIHEAP assistance is meant to reduce the cost of a family’s monthly electricity and heating costs.
Learn About Requirements for LIHEAP Assistance
The eligibility requirements for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program can vary depending on an applicant’s home state or county. For most cases, LIHEAP assistance will be available to applicants who meet the requirements to receive benefits from other low-income assistance programs. Some other federal assistance programs with similar eligibility requirements include the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or the Section 8 program. Benefits from LIHEAP and the Housing Choice Voucher can be used together to pay for housing and the heating and cooling costs for the home.
About the Individuals and Households Program (IHP)
In the event of a natural disaster, the President of the United States can declare that affected households will be eligible to receive disaster assistance in the form of federal grants. The federal government distributes these Individuals and Households Program (IHP) assistance grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). When a household is approved to receive an IHP grant, they can use the funds to repair or replace their damaged household. These benefits can also be used by a family to obtain temporary housing assistance.
Some of the basic qualifications to receive IHP assistance include:
- You must be a citizen or qualified non-citizen of the United States.
- You must have experienced loss while in an area that the president has deemed a disaster zone.
- Your property losses must be caused to your primary residence and the damages must be related to the natural disaster.
- Your primary residence must be unlivable or inaccessible.
- You do not have adequate insurance coverage to cover the cost of repairs for the damages.
About Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Grants (Section 504)
Eligible applicants can receive funds to repair or rehabilitate their rural housing units through Section 504 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This grant is only accessible to people who live in homes that have been determined to be rural areas. Furthermore, these grants are made available for individuals living in low income households or those that have at least one elderly members. Applicants must be unable to repay their Section 504 loans to receive benefits from this grant.
Beneficiaries of this grant can receive up to $7,500 in assistance funds to repair and improve their current home. Repairs must be made to remove hazardous aspects of a home or to make a home easier to access by people living with disabilities. Interested parties can apply for Section 504 grant assistance by applying at their local USDA office. Applicants will have their eligibility status determined based on their household’s citizenship status, income, required repair and more.
Learn About Financial Aid Grants for Low-Income Students
Students in low-income families can receive financial aid in order to afford the tuition costs for higher education. There are a variety of grants available for students who need financial assistance. Typically, an applicant’s eligibility status will be determined based on factors such as:
- The student’s financial need.
- The citizenship status of the applicant.
- The applicant’s financial standing with other loan institutions.
- The applicant must have already been accepted for an eligible degree or certificate program.
- All beneficiaries must maintain a standard of academic progress to continue receiving financial aid.
In addition to standard federal aid grants, there are education grants available for certain degrees and majors. For example, there are grants available for future teachers such as the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants. This type of grant is aimed at students who wish to become teachers after they graduate.