Every homeowner dreads hearing that they need “repairs to roof”. Roofing repairs can be expensive, and for the low-income homeowner, cost-prohibitive. Sound roofing systems are a necessity for any structure. The roof protects every other system in the home.
What do you do when you do not have the money to make repairs to roof? Hopefully, you are lucky enough to live in a region where there are organizations that can step up and help you make repairs to roof at a low cost or free of charge.
Keeping a Roof Over Your Head
Many low-income families are living on a shoestring budget. That means they can get by, pay their bills, and feed their family, but it also means that there is no room for any unexpected problems like repairs to roof problems.
Unmet necessary repairs to roof can snowball into something much greater rather quickly. A roof is the first line of defense for any home. It protects against the elements, helps with energy efficiency, and protects all the other systems in the home.
Roof damage that is not addressed can quickly cause other damage. Water damage alone from a leak can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in mold damage. The frame of the house, the foundation, walls, floors, and ceilings all come under fire when there is a roof problem that is not fixed. Unfortunately for low-income homeowners simply picking up the phone and calling for roof repair service is an option that can require some really tough decision making.
It is not an exaggeration to say that some low-income homeowners have to decide whether they will get their medicine or their children’s medicine or get roof repairs. They may have to decide to forgo groceries to get repairs to roof materials done. They may not be able to pay their mortgage if they get roof replacement that they desperately need.
Luckily there are non-profit organizations that provide help. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity that is known for building homes for low-income families also do repairs for low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly.
Habitat for Humanity is well known for helping low-income families become homeowners by working out a trading system of sorts. Each homeowner is expected to volunteer a certain amount of hours and provide sweat equity for their future home. While this is what they are most well-known for, they do provide repairs free of charge to eligible community members. There is an eligibility process to get the support of this great organization.
Rebuilding Together is another organization that offers low-income homeowners, the elderly, and the disabled help with home repairs including roofing needs. This organization has over 40 years of service under its belt. They work throughout the US in furthering their goal of ensuring that every person has safe, affordable housing. They improve their community by making repairs free of charge to low-income homeowners. Find a local chapter near you and make them aware of your situation.
Keeping a roof over someone’s head and keeping it in good condition is a mission for a handful of dedicated organizations, but that is not the only place low-income homeowners can turn to get the repairs to roof that they need.
Community Action Programs
The fact is that a roof in poor condition is both a safety and a health risk. Across the United States, there are community action programs in place that offer grants to help with repairs to roofs, weatherization (which can mean new windows and doors), and more. If you need roof replacement your local community action program may be the best place to start.
Another source for help with roofing problems may be the federal government. HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) offers low-interest loans to homeowners that need to make major repairs to keep their home safe.
Local resources include church groups, local department of social services, civic groups, and other organizations that are committed to making their community a better place for everyone to live in. Often assistance can be found by calling the right agency.
Specifically For the Elderly
Aging in place and staying in your own home as you age can be difficult when the home needs repairs like repairs to roof, luckily there are agencies and organizations that help seniors to keep their homes in great condition. For the elderly homeowner, the best place to start to find assistance is with the local agency for aging.
Some of the organizations that are doing great things for seniors include the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), HUD, Americans with Disabilities, Building Together, Habitat for Humanity, and smaller local organizations.
Many seniors do not realize that their long term care insurance can actually be used to make home modifications and repairs so that they can stay in their home. If you or a senior loved one has this type of insurance in place, check your policy. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the money you need to make repairs to roof and other modifications is sitting right there.
Veterans Are a Special Category
There are several options for veteran homeowners that find that they need repairs to roof that they cannot afford. The Veterans Administration has a program in place to help veterans find the funding that they need to rehabilitate their roof and more.
Unfortunately the funding can run out quickly each year at the Veterans Administration program. There are other privately funded non-profits that can help a veteran get the repairs that they need with no cost.
Habitat for Humanity Veterans Build is a great group that lets veterans help veterans. Veteran volunteers make repairs and modifications to other veteran’s homes. This is a non-profit that is doing great work for veterans.
Purple Heart Homes is another organization that can help veteran homeowners find the resources that they need to get their homes in great shape. Home Depot Renovation grants for Veterans is also a potential avenue to get the free repairs to roof that is needed.
Any veteran that is in need of assistance should contact their local Department of Veteran Affairs, their local American Legion, and or their local VFW (veterans of foreign wars) to locate potential resources. Some states offer special housing repair programs for veterans. You will not know what is available until you ask.
Avoiding Roofing Problems
Most homeowners never think about their roof until there is a problem. That problem usually takes the form of a leak somewhere inside the house. A leak investigation (an investigation that traces the origin of the leak) typically reveals the need for repairs to roof material.
Struggling to keep your family afloat is already hard enough. Worrying about how you are going to cover the cost of roof repair just adds so much more stress. One of the best ways to avoid roof problems is to prevent them.
You may be wondering how you are supposed to prevent roof issues. That is a fair question. Most people do not realize that roof maintenance is a “thing”. It is. Avoiding the unaffordable repair to roof sections or a complete replacement starts with a little roof maintenance including:
- Trim overhanging limbs. If you cannot do it yourself, ask a family member or a neighbor if they can help. Removing limbs that are overhanging the roof will prevent any mishaps during the next storm.
- See if your local roofing service offers a free roof inspection. A roof inspection can help you to address any minor issues before they become big problems. Addressing smaller issues is a lot less expensive than dealing with larger problems.
- Keep your gutters clean. Clogged gutters can prematurely age your roof.
With a little maintenance, you can reduce the stress and worry about your roof. In the event, you do find that you need repairs to roof and money is tight there are things that you can do if you cannot find a local organization that can help.
Explain your situation to the roofing contractor and ask if they have any type of payment plan in place. It may stretch your budget to the breaking point, but acting quickly will save you a lot more damage costs in the end.
If you cannot find an organization to help, consider this, you may not be able to find a group to help with the roof, but you may be able to find a group that can help with other expenses. For example, there are organizations and government programs that will help with heating and cooling costs. You may have mapped out your budget to include these types of costs, but if you have to pay for your roof and take your heating money to do it, then you can get assistance with heating costs.
Ways to Get Help That Will Usually Work
Most organizations that offer free to low cost roofing assistance like to see that you are invested as well. They also need you to be reasonable about your options. Let’s say you currently have a metal roof on your house but it is beyond the point of saving.
You would like to replace your current roof with a new metal roof, however, shingle roofing is much more affordable. If you can get a shingle roof for free or for low cost, take it. These great organizations that are committed to helping their neighbors are likely working on a pretty tight budget. They rely almost solely on individual donations. They will do what they can afford to do but it may not be exactly what you envision.
Roll up your sleeves and help if you can. You may not have the money to get the materials that you need, but almost anyone in good health can swing a hammer and carry supplies. Do your part. As a matter of fact, if you can, when you put in your application, be sure to mention that you are willing to do your share of the work if the group decides to help you.
If you can afford to pay for any part of the materials offer to pay for whatever part you can. Being both financially invested in the project and willing to do part of the work can persuade an organization to take your case on.
Of course, if you are not in a position to do neither that is okay too, but if you can you absolutely should. In some cases, you may be required to come up with your cost share of the project. In others, you will not.
If it is required that you contribute a part of the cost, you can look into taking a microloan from one of the HUD loan programs for rehabilitation. Connecting with a lender that is familiar with all the HUD and USDA loan programs can help you to come up with your share of the costs.
Making a Difference
If you are on the other side of the fence and you just want to help out in your community getting involved with Habitat for Humanity or one of the other organizations is a great way to do it. You do not have to be a silicone roof coatings expert to help repair a neighbors roof. All you really need is the drive to do something good and some basic skills.
What if getting up on a roof is not on your shortlist of things you want to experience? Habitat for Humanity and other home building repair nonprofits would sure enjoy a generous gift of materials and supplies, a check, or dedicating your time to another project.
The beauty of getting involved with these types of non-profits is that everything you bring to the group stays right in your own community. You get to see the difference that you make every day as you walk past the homes that have benefited from the programs.
Neighbors helping neighbors to build stronger communities and provide everyone with a safe place to live is a wonderful cause. You can help to make a difference right in your own neighborhood by aligning with one of these great organizations.