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Is Your Georgia Home In Need of Repairs? There Are Grants That Can Help

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

Is Georgia on your mind as sweet and clear as moonlight on the pines? You wouldn’t be alone, as the almost 10.8 million Georgia inhabitants feel the same. However, Georgia’s real estate market also has a lot on its mind as home sales are down 23% from 2021. Yet the median price of homes has increased by 13% to almost $360,000, and counties across Georgia are seeing listings as high as $1,000,000 and as low as $100,000, according to Georgia’s MLS.

With so much fluctuation, some homeowners may want to focus on rehabilitating their homes rather than purchasing. However, special attention needs to be given to lower-income communities that may not have the funds accessible for such repairs.

Wanting to support its low-income and very low-income population, Georgia provides several opportunities for affordable housing. This includes mortgage financing, rental assistance, and housing vouchers. Further, various programs exist at the state and county level that support homeowners in making needed repairs to their current homes.

Insert home repair grant programs to ensure the habitability and longevity of homes for low-income communities! 

We reviewed Georgia’s top counties, federally funded programs, and HUD resources to find out everything we could about repair programs for income-eligible homeowners. Below is the culmination of our findings and your guide to home repair funding in Georgia.

Grants for home repairs in Georgia

Community Home Investment Program

Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs creates habitable homes through its federally-funded Community Home Investment Program (CHIP). Its goal is to increase the supply of accessible single-family homes for income-eligible homeowners at or under 80% AMI (area median income).

This program’s important distinction is that homeowners do not apply for funding. Instead, CHIP awards funds to public housing authorities, nonprofits, or government agencies that aim to improve their local communities via housing for low-income residents.

CHIP’s grants are awarded on a 3-year term and include a $400,000 limit for rehabilitation and $600,000 limit for new construction.

Wondering how you can get involved? Homeowners can benefit by researching institutions that have received funding and keeping updated on new projects that take place in their community. Find the eligibility requirements, funding limits, and more on the program’s webpage.

Community Development Block Grants

The Department of Community Affairs also offers the federally-funded Community Development Block Grants program (CDBG) to support low- to moderate-income regions. It grants communities up to $300,000 for rehabilitation of single-activity housing projects (meaning only one kind of project per grant) through its Annual CDBG Competition.

Local government institutions apply for funding to improve infrastructure and provide safer housing for those at or below 80% AMI. Homeowners can benefit by researching whether their community has used or received a CDBG.

Read more about the program and find related documents here.

USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants

The USDA Rural Development supports communities across the U.S. to modernize structures and create updated, affordable housing through its Section 504 Home Repair Program. The program provides loans up to $40,000 at a 1% interest rate across 20 years for low-income individuals. Grants up to $10,000 are also offered for homeowners age 62 or older.

An eligible homeowner must occupy the house in a designated rural area, be unable to afford credit, and have an income that doesn’t exceed the county’s very low limit. For example, most of Georgia’s 1- to 4-person annual income limits are between $30,700 and $42,400, with the Atlanta Metro Area being an outlier at $48,200.

A homeowner can utilize the USDA Home Repair loan to modernize and improve their home, whereas the grant can only be used to remove health hazards. Applicants apply through the state’s RD office and can find support via a USDA home loan specialist. Learn more about Georgia’s USDA program here to determine if you qualify.

FHA’s 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance

The FHA offers the 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance to support a purchase or refinance and repair of a single-family home. The program insures a single, long-term, fixed or adjustable rate loan on properties at least one-year-old and in need of no less than $5,000 in rehabilitation such as:

  • Installing wells
  • Eliminating safety hazards
  • Replacing floors
  • Making structural alterations
  • Changing landscaping

Pay close attention to the FHA’s mortgage limits in your area, as the total value of the property cannot exceed that maximum. Georgia counties’ average limit on an FHA single-family mortgage is $420,680.

If you have a less extensive project, the FHA provides a Limited 203(k) Mortgage, financing up to $35,000 to cover improvement projects identified by an FHA appraiser or inspector.

203(k) is a convenient option that saves an individual from high-interest rates, making homeownership more accessible across income levels. You’ll apply through an FHA-approved lender and can find the list of lenders and other program details here.

How to find county and city specific programs for home repair grants in Georgia

The state of Georgia works to provide safe housing for low- to moderate-income communities, primarily through its Department of Community Affairs arm. But it’s important to note that most home repair grant programs exist at the local government level. You can tap into these programs by researching your county and city government offices, and we’ve done the work for you in some of the most populated counties!

Fulton County

Located in the north-central region and covering a substantial portion of Atlanta, Fulton County is Georgia’s most populated county with over 1 million inhabitants. It’s no wonder why many call this beautiful region home when it includes everything from big-city lifestyles to Appalachian Mountain escapes.

The inflated population also includes lower-income communities that Fulton County supports with housing rehabilitation. Two unique programs in Fulton include:

  • Department of Senior Services Minor Home Repair Program: This repair program aims to keep seniors 55+ in their homes by providing health and safety repair services at zero cost. Permissible activities include ramp and grab bar installations, structural upgrades, weatherization efforts, and landscaping.
  • Community Development Minor Home Repair Program: The federally-funded program provides loans or grants to low/very low-income households to improve habitability. Assistance provided depends on what an inspection reveals and what’s needed to meet building codes or fix health and safety issues.

You can find more details here about what Fulton County offers to uplift communities and provide safe housing.

Chatham County

Chatham County is home to quintessential southern towns, a well-visited lighthouse museum, and a population of nearly 300,000 individuals. Chatham is also the fifth most populated county in Georgia and is focused on supporting lower-income communities, such as through emergency rental assistance.

Regarding repairs, Chatham’s largest city, Savannah, offers homeowners a home repair assistance program. Housing Savannah works with eligible homeowners to make home exterior or system repairs through the distribution of grants or loans from $1,000 to $10,000. Funds may be utilized to purchase materials or hire contractors. Income is the predominant eligibility factor, and repairs must make the house habitable.

You can read the homeowner program and look at other repair assistance details on their website.

DeKalb County

DeKalb County is one of Georgia’s top five most populated counties, and its Community Development Department is a good resource for home assistance programs that support low-income households. It has also been granted Community Development Block Grant funds to expand suitable housing options for all income levels.

Across the county, a few programs stand out with a specific focus on supporting the elderly and disabled populations:

  • Special Purpose Home Repair Program: This program offers forgivable loans up to $12,000 to disabled adults 21+ and senior citizens 62+ to make health and safety repairs. Homeowners must be current on income taxes, reside in the home as the primary residence, and be at or below 60% AMI ($41,400 for a 2-person household). Eligible repairs include roof repairs and HVAC replacements to plumbing and electrical fixes.
  • Senior Home Repair Program: DeKalb’s Habitat for Humanity offers another home repair program to support low-income seniors in remaining at home. To be eligible, homeowners must be 65 or older, have a home 15 years or older, and meet income limits. The program will provide electrical, painting, and fixture repairs, among other services. Income-eligible, disabled individuals can also receive support through this initiative.

You can learn about additional assistance programs across DeKalb County on its website.

Glynn County

Glynn County sits on the southeast coast of Georgia, making it home to ocean lovers and the fishing industry. Glynn’s Community Development Department is focused on supporting development across the county through programs and grants.

One standout home repair program takes place in the city of Brunswick. The local government offers its Minor/Major Home Repair Program to applicants at or below 80% AMI who require repairs and own their homes. Assistance is to be utilized to bring a property up to code, with up to $15,000 available for minor repairs and $40,000 for major repairs across structure, roofing, plumbing, and heating. The program clarifies that the funds must be able to make the property habitable and cosmetic changes are not permissible.

Review other housing opportunities and details at Glynn County’s website.

Other options for homeowners that do not qualify for home repair grants

Most home repair programs are only available for those who meet strict requirements, usually income-based, to support low- to moderate-income levels. A good average across programs is an income level at or below 80% area median income based on state and county data.

Once eligible based on income, you must also engage in only permissible home repair activities. Many programs are to be used specifically for accessibility, health, and safety repairs – not for aesthetic purposes.

Are you ineligible based on the above criteria? You can be innovative by exploring other funding opportunities to tackle your list of home upgrades.

Consider a HELOC to pay for repairs

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is an option for individuals with equity in their homes. A HELOC is a revolving source of funds with a maximum available credit secured by home equity. They usually come with variable interest rates, and the current average HELOC rate is 7.12% as of September, 2022.

The first phase of a HELOC is the draw period, on average ten years, during which you can draw from the available funds while making payments on only the interest. Upon completion of the draw period, you enter the repayment period, usually over 20 years, and pay off the remaining balance.

A HELOC is an excellent method when you need immediate funds for a home project, such as an emergency repair, and when you don’t qualify for income-based programs.

Consider a cash-out refinance

When undergoing a significant home project, you should consider a cash-out refinance. This replaces your current mortgage with a new one that provides the remaining funds in cash once your old mortgage has been paid off. Most lenders only offer an 80% loan-to-value ratio, i.e., the loan can only be up to 80% of the home’s value.

Let’s use an example. Say your current home’s appraised value is $200,000, and you owe $100,000 on your home. A cash-out refinance could give you a new mortgage of $160,000 (80% of the home’s value). You would pay off the old mortgage and use the remaining $60,000 for home repairs and closing costs.

A cash-out refinance isn’t for emergency repairs; you should explore a HELOC first for that. Lenders often want to see safety hazards cleared before moving forward with a refinance. There are downsides to a cash-out refinance, however.  The refinance creates more debt, possibly at steeper interest rates and closing costs.

Sell your home as-is and move on!

Home repair projects come with hassles, whether planned for or surprising. You certainly create value in your current homestead but at the expense of time, money, and emotional resources. You don’t have to tell us that seeing your contractor call you creates immediate stress.

Making repairs needs to be worth the effort, and you may decide it’s not. Maybe there is a long list of repairs, or you’d prefer to downsize. If this sounds like you, selling your home as-is might be your best option. You should first carefully review the pros and cons before making this decision, including but not limited to:

  • Pro: Leaving repairs up to the newest owner
  • Con: Interested buyers seeing as-is as a red flag
  • Pro: Selling more quickly than traditional processes
  • Con: Receiving a lower offer than expected

Selling an as-is home looks a bit different than the traditional home sale process. Our Simple Sale platform is a great starting point if you decide this is how you would like to proceed. The platform makes it easy to sell your home by providing a few details to a home consultant and receiving a payout in as little as ten days.

Skip the Repairs and Sell Your Home As-Is in Georgia

If you decide that repairing or updating your current home is more than you want to take on, HomeLight’s Simple Sale can help. HomeLight can provide an offer for your home in as little as one week, and close in as little as 10 days, so you can move on with ease.

Keep Georgia on your mind with the best program for you

You have options for funding Georgia home repairs, whether they are extensive or minor projects. The state and county governments provide financial resources to keep you in your home when that’s the preferred method forward.

Grants, low-interest rate loans, or cash-out refinances mean you have ways to navigate the financial constraints of pricey projects. Do your research, use this guide, and find a program that makes the most sense in keeping you homeward-bound.

Header Image Source: (Collov Home Design / Unsplash)