When a reader commented that she had a roof leak but couldn’t afford to get it repaired we researched for low-income home repair loans or any programs to help mobile home owners in need.
If you need a sudden mobile home repair and don’t have the money, what can you do? What options are available to elderly or disabled mobile home owners that don’t make a lot of money but need their homes repaired?
Fortunately, there are a few low-income home repair loans available, both on a federal and private fund level. In addition to low-income home repair loans, there are several programs to help mobile home owners in need.
We’ve previously written an article titled 18 home improvement and grants for your manufactured home remodel but this article will focus specifically on ideas and programs for elderly, disabled, and low-income families that need help and may not have the credit scores or income needed to get standard loans we shared in the other article.
USDA Programs for Low-Income Home Repair Loans
More than 60 million people live in rural areas in the US. Most mobile and manufactured homes are in a rural area so it makes sense that we start with the USDA.
The USDA stands for the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development. It focuses ‘providing financial resources and support for rural communities, residents, and businesses’. The USDA defines rural populations as an area that has less than 20,000 occupants living outside of metropolitan areas or urban areas if the population is less than 10,000 with a major lack in mortgage credit.
The USDA has many loans and grants available to homeowners, tenants, and businesses, this link will take you to a list of their most popular programs.
Section 504, The Rural Repair and Rehabilitation Loan and Grant Program
The Rural Repair and Rehabilitation Loan and Grant Program, also known as the Section 504 loan and grant fund, is a USDA program that can help with mobile home repairs and upgrades if the following restrictions are met (verbatim from this form):
Repairs to Mobile or Manufactured Homes Section 504 loan and grant funds can be used to repair mobile or manufactured homes if:
- The applicant owns the home and the site and occupied the home prior to filing an application;
- The repairs are needed to remove health or safety hazards; and
- The home is on a permanent foundation or will be put on a permanent foundation with Section 504 funds.
A permanent foundation is defined as either: (1) a full below-grade foundation; or (2) blocks, piers, or some other type foundation with skirting and anchoring with tie-downs.”
The program is only open to people that meet the following controls:
- Be the homeowner and occupy the house
- Be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere
- Have a family income below 50 percent of the area median income
- For grants, be age 62 or older and not be able to repay a repair loan
Mobile Home Repairs and Improvements Covered by USDA Loans and Grants
Here’s a brief list of mobile home repairs and improvements the USDA loans and grants can cover:
- Roof repair or replacement
- Insulation, doors, caulking, and storm windows
- Wood burning stoves that meet safety requirements
- Repair of structural supports
- Room addition for large families
- Provision repair for sewage and water systems
- Reasonable connection fees
- Repair needed due to previous occupants
- Fee payment on loans
- Accessible to handicapped (if needed)
- Flood insurance
More USDA Programs to Help Mobile Home Owners in Need
There are programs to help low-income families purchase homes, too. The Section 502: The Direct Loan Program helps low-income applicants obtain safe and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas by providing payment assistance to increase an applicant’s repayment ability.
The Single Family Home Loan Guarantees can help lenders to provide low-income households the opportunity to own adequate, modest, decent, safe and sanitary dwellings as their primary residence in eligible rural areas. They also have loans to help families get started in farming. You can see more loans here. If you dream of having a small mobile home on a large farm then the USDA should be your first stop. You may be eligible for a loan or grant.
HUD Programs for Low-Income Home Repair Loans
HUD is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They handle housing issues throughout the country, rural or urban and are best known for their home buying loans and programs. But they have home repair loans, too.
FHA/Title I Loans
The FHA Title I loans are a little-known financing tool for home improvements and repairs. Buyers can also piggyback a Title I loan onto their purchase mortgage to fix up a property they’re buying.
The loan must be funded through a lender that is approved for Title I loans and must be used to finance repairs or improvements on a residence that has been occupied for at least 90 days.
- Loans of up to $7500 are available as unsecured for a manufactured home that is not considered real property.
- If the manufactured home qualifies as real property loans are available for amounts up to $7,500 unsecured to a maximum of $25,090 secured
A minimum loan term of 6 months applies to both with a maximum of 12 years and 32 days for a manufactured home only and 15 years and 32 days for a manufactured home considered real property.
There are several home mortgage and home repair programs backed by HUD. If you want to buy a home anywhere HUD should be your first stop. This link, from a private lender, has a complete list of HUD programs available in each state.
Weatherization Programs for Low-Income Home Owners
Energy.gov has a program that can help homeowners weatherize their homes at little to no cost. Here’s what the Energy.gov site says about the program:
Under DOE guidelines, you are automatically eligible to receive weatherization assistance if you receive Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. In other cases, states give preference to:
- People over 60 years of age
- Families with one or more members with a disability
- Families with children (in most states).
Nationally, as many as 20–30 million U.S. families are eligible for weatherization services. DOE urges you to contact your state weatherization agency to determine if you are eligible for the many benefits of weatherization services.
These weatherization programs are run through a state weatherization agency. A majority of these weatherization agencies are nonprofit organizations that contract energy professionals. Therefore, you will need to research for your state’s advocacy department. For example, I would Google search ‘West Virginia weatherization program.’ Click here for more information.
LIHEAP stands for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. It helps low-income families pay for their heating bills in the winter. While it’s not technically a home repair program, it may help you save just enough money to get a much-needed repair. You can see the state LIHEAP programs here.
Energy Star Tax Credits and Rebates
ENERGY STAR® is a government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.
EnergyStar has rebates and tax credits available for homeowners that buy EnergyStar products. Some of these rebates are pretty good, too. Click here to read about the programs and eligibility.
Layaway Programs Can Help Mobile Home Owners in Need
If it wasn’t for Kmart’s layaway program my daughter wouldn’t have had much of a Christmas in 2009. For an entire winter, we were living on unemployment and receiving $312 a week (and happy to get that). Southern WV isn’t a very prosperous place even when the country is booming, during the recession it was terrible. Kmart’s layaway program allowed us to give our daughter a nice Christmas and I’ll forever be grateful that the program was available to us.
Walmart has a holiday layaway program that begins in September. There’s no interest and you only need 10% or $10 to put down, whichever is most. Small appliances and large furniture are included.
Sears has an 8-week layaway program that will help you with home improvement and appliances.
Mobile Home Parts Store offers a layaway program to get all your mobile home supplies for your remodeling project over time. It’s a great way to tackle one project at a time, and no loan is required.
Other Ways to Get Materials and Appliances you Need for Your Home
‘6 Months Same as Cash’ Credit Cards
I’m hesitant to even mention these but you have to do what you have to do sometimes. If you have no savings and your refrigerator or stove stops working what are you supposed to do? You have to feed the family!
While I’m not a big fan of credit cards, some can be handy to have. Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s, and Tru Value all have no-interest programs if you use their credit cards. You can get the materials you need to repair your home immediately and if you pay the loan off within the allowed timeframe you won’t have to pay interest. Usually, it’s a 6 month same as cash program which is a smart option if you pay it off quickly. These in-store cards have helped a lot of people get their homes repaired and improved so it’s only fair to include.
Volunteer Programs for Mobile Home Owners in Need
School Volunteer Programs
My daughter’s school makes every student do volunteer work in the community every year. Freshmen are required to do 5 hours each year, sophomores do 10, and junior and seniors need 30. If you are elderly or disabled you may be able to get some help through these programs.
If your town has a trade school that has a construction program (or plumbing, electrical, etc), you should call and ask for help. You’d need to furnish the materials and pull the permits yourself but the opportunity for free labor is there.
Local Government Programs
A lot of small towns and counties across the nation get federal grants for neighborhood revitalization and energy-saving programs. You can call your local courthouse or city hall to see if they can help.
Church Ministry Volunteer Programs
During the summers in southern WV, we are visited by tons of out-of-state church groups that come in and do volunteer work for elderly and disabled homeowners. Of course, southern WV is the poorest area in the nation (we tie with MS and LA year after year) so that may be why they chose the area every year.
Still, calling your local churches can’t hurt (and actually attending church services before you ask for their assistance would always be a good idea).
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity does a lot more than just build houses. They have neighborhood revitalization programs and financial education services. You can learn more about their programs by clicking the link.
As you can see, there are options for low-income home loans and several programs for mobile home owners in need. Whether it be a federally backed loan, a state grant, or through one of the private lenders we mentioned, you have a good chance of getting your home repaired.
Have a tip to help low-income, elderly, or disabled readers get their home repaired? Comment below and share your experience with our readers.
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