Housing rehabilitation loan and grant programs
Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
- This strategy can help promote healthy living environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
- Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- Provide funds in the form of loans and/or grants to income-eligible owner-occupants to assist with repair, rehabilitation, and/or reconstruction of homes.
- Some programs tie funding to specific forms of home improvement, like insulation, plumbing, or mold removal.
Evidence and impacts
Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
- Can decrease disparities in access to quality housing and housing-related health outcomes
- Positive impacts on the stability and quality of neighborhood housing
- Health benefits are particularly strong when focused on increasing housing insulation and warmth
- Correlated with improvements in school attendance, work attendance, frequency of doctor’s visits, and reduced hospitalizations
Best practices in implementation
- Define a set of priorities and corresponding criteria for targeting and selecting loan and grant applicants, such as home safety, habitability, energy efficiency, and/or accessibility.
- Clearly communicate loan and grant applicant eligibility criteria, including income, family size, age (such as a program for senior housing), and other factors that align with policy priorities and community needs.
- Consider tailoring grants or loans to meet specific needs within a community, such as lead remediation for communities with older housing stocks, mold remediation in humid climates, and more.
- Ensure the program offers large enough loans and grant awards to allow recipients to fully mitigate health risks; while costs vary, successful grant programs have awarded as much as $7,500, while loans have reached $20,000.
- Consider offering and encourage applicants to apply for both grants and loans, and to consider funding home improvements using a combination of both if they are able to repay part of the loan.
- Coordinate across local agencies to ensure program implementation aligns with policy priorities across housing, planning and zoning, taxation and finance, and more.
County Health Rankings and Roadmaps evidence overview of housing rehabilitation grant and loan programs Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: "A healthcare partnership playbook for community developers" Green and Health Homes Initiative: "8 elements of a green and healthy home" (2020) Milbank Quarterly Housing and Health Benefits Overview