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Grant Programs for Housing - Part 2

Other Grants for Low-Income Families
Many consumers may not realize that federal or state governments are not the only place to look for housing grants or other assistance programs. Non-profit organizations have grant programs for low-income families who are seeking to purchase a home or find adequate housing.

One great resource is Habitat for Humanity. This private organization builds houses for low-income families in communities where housing can be both difficult to find and expensive. Houses are built by volunteers, and Habitat will provide mortgages on these houses to low-income families for low down payments, no interest, and for less than 30% of their income. Unlike the predatory lending programs from the early 2000s, Habitat has been building and selling homes to low-income families for 40 years. Learn more here.

State-level programs. Your state, or even your city, may have individual grants and other programs for low-income families. Check your state's government website, or call your local or state government offices to discover any programs your state may offer.

Utility Provider programs. Your utility company may offer assistance to customers with special hardship. Take, for example, ComEd's grant program. If you are past-due on your electric bill and have a financial hardship due to job loss, illness, military deployment, disability or being a senior citizen you may be eligible to receive up to a $500 grant to cover the costs. It's a smart idea to look at your utility company's website and learn if they have a similar hardship program.

Home repair loans. States and counties often have programs to assist low-income individuals and families with home repairs. In the city of Dallas, the Housing / Community Services Department can potentially assist. Their program offers monies for major systems repair in the form of a deferred loan. A percentage of the loan is forgiven annually as long as the owner remains in the home. You can learn more here if you live in Dallas. If not, search for local county and city programs in your area.

Housing for disabled veterans. Grants are available for veterans who have certain specified disabilities. Money from this program helps with modifying an existing home or with the purchase or construction of an adapted home. For more information on this program, visit the VA website by clicking here.

Good Neighbor Next Door Sales. The Good Neighbor Next Door program is very selective in terms of eligibility and availability. Under this program, recipients pay only 50% of the HUD-appraised value of a home in a revitalized community. The other 50% is forgiven. Available houses are listed on the HUD website. Only law enforcement officers, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians are included in this grant. The program comes with a commitment to live in the house as your primary residence for at least 3 years. After the three years, you are free to sell the house and keep any profit from the sale.

Making Home Affordable Mortgage Help. While MHA is not a grant in the truest sense of the word, it is a source of help for homeowners who are facing foreclosure. The federal government has implemented a range of programs to help homeowners modify mortgages, reduce principal, modify second liens, refinance, or receive forbearance for unemployment, emergencies, or military personnel. To learn more about the Making Home Affordable program, visit the government website by clicking here.

Awards and Opportunities for Women
Many states offer special programs for women, many of which are designed to help women who have suffered from domestic abuse.

Look for transitional housing programs. Some states and municipalities may offer transitional housing grants and other forms of assistance for women who have suffered from domestic abuse.

See if you qualify for the YWCA Transitional Housing program. This program is designed to help homeless single mothers find housing and work. The program provides financial assistance to women who fit certain minimal criteria.

Housing Grants for Minorities
Although the federal government has passed laws to fight discriminatory housing practices, many minorities may still face an uphill battle when it comes to buying a home. The office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is dedicated to ensuring that minorities do not receive unfair treatment when looking for a house. Although there are no federal or private programs that give housing grants specifically for minorities, there are some things minorities searching for housing will want to consider.

Look for the Equal Housing Opportunity symbol. Any company or individual renting or selling a house should display the symbol. It is recognizable and simple: a small black outline of a house with two lines (equal sign) on the inside. This lets you know that the company from which you are trying to buy or rent housing has dedicated themselves to nondiscriminatory housing practices.

Report any discriminatory practices. You can file a fair housing complaint directly with HUD through their website. Report any instance immediately.

Stay Active in Pursuing Grants and Housing Assistance
Navigating grant and housing assistance programs can be overwhelming. Ensure that you are staying vigilant in your pursuit of accessible housing, and get help and assistance where needed. Most local and state governments provide assistance for those seeking affordable housing. There is always someone ready and willing to help.

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