Grants and Loans for Home Repairs for USA Low Income Rural Homeowners

Are you a  homeowner or belong to a homeowner association? You might want to check this link that searches the word homeowner on GrantWatch.

Government grants and loans exist for home repairs and safety hazard removal for USA low-income rural homeowners. This program is known as the Section 504 Home Repair program and are ongoing.  

The Section 504 Home Repair program provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve, or modernize their homes or provides grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards. 

The USDA Rural Development Department offers these loans and grants because helping people stay in their own home and keep it in good repair helps families and their communities. Homeownership helps families and individuals build savings over time. It strengthens communities and helps many kinds of businesses that support the local economy.

Grants of up to $7,500 and low-interest loans of up to $20,000 are awarded to low-income homeowners in rural areas of the US, to improve their homes and address health hazards. The purpose of this program is to help people stay in their home and keep houses in good repair. Low-interest loans are available to repair, modernize, and improve homes. The grants available are for elderly homeowners with low incomes, primarily to remove health and safety hazards. 

Who may apply for this program?

To qualify, you must:
• 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

What is an eligible area?

Generally, rural areas with a population less than 35,000 are eligible.
Applicants may check the address of their home to determine eligibility online.

How may funds be used?
• Loans may be used to repair, improve, or modernize homes or to remove health and safety hazards.
• Grants must be used to remove health and safety hazards.

How much money can I get?
• Maximum loan is $20,000.
• Maximum grant is $7,500.
• Loans and grants can be combined for up to $27,500 in assistance.

What are the terms of the loan or grant?
• Loans can be repaid over 20 years
• Loan interest rate is fixed at 1%.
• Full title service is required for loans of $7,500 or more
• Grants have a lifetime limit of $7,500.
• Grants must be repaid if the property is sold in less than 3 years
• If applicants can repay part, but not all of the costs, applicants may be offered a loan and grant combination

Is there a deadline to apply?
Applications are available year round as long as funding is available, and are processed in the order they are received.

How long does an application take?
Approval times depend on funding availability in your area. Talk to a USDA home loan specialist in your area for help with the application.

To get started, contact a USDA home loan specialist in your area.

What law governs this program?
• The Housing Act of 1949 as amended, 7 CFR, Part 3550
• HB-1-3550 – Direct Single Family Housing Loans and Grants Field Office Handbook 

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for


What Are The Key Elements of Successful Online Businesses and Startups?

Why does one business make it and another fail?

Lately I have been thinking about this in my effort to fully develop the last of our six websites.  I wanted to pull the best of elements of the business models from GrantWatch, GrantWriterTeam, YouHelp, GrantNews and MWBEzone and put it all into (Grant Writing Institute).

Here are the elements, based upon my personal experience that work for online businesses:

  1. The director of the business must have a strong background in the business' niche market.
    If the director does not, they need to learn as much as they can or hire someone with the expertise needed in that market. 
  2. The market must have a demand for the business. 
    When we can see a void that needs to be filled, that's fantastic as is when we create a demand for something new that people have a need for. This might require educating people as to why they need your product or service. 
  3. People need to want to sign up for more info about your product or service.  
    Make it easy for people to subscribe to your list on your website, emails, advertisements and social media posts. 
  4. The words you use on your website should be the words people use to search for your niche. 
    There's an art and science to choosing the best keywords and phrases and how to use them. See our article on the keys to writing content for your website and blogs that attracts traffic to your website. 
  5. Fresh content daily is key to attract new traffic.
    A blog on your website, or adding and changing content on your website are great, but in edition to the fresh content, you need a way to get the content out to the public, like publishing it on social media as well as sending your list emails regularly, and drive traffic to your site. 
  6. Targeted emails from lists of people who willingly signed up, are your most productive tool for sales.
    In your emails, include information that teaches and benefits your readers in some way. Make sure that you have their permission before adding anyone to your email list. Then, in order to convert subscribers to your email to customers,  make sure you have a clear call to action. It might not be all in the same email. It's recommended to have a content schedule so that readers sometimes just get information, and at other times there's also an opportunity to buy.
  7. Online businesses need 2/3 income from repeat customers and 1/3 from new customers to survive.
    Work to keep your customers coming back. They say it takes three times as much effort and money to get new customers as it does to retain current or previous customers. Don't neglect relationships with the customers you already have. 
  8. Social media builds awareness and name recognition but it is not your sales engine. 
    Having a social media presence is crucial in today's market. In addition, you need an effective means to drive sales, like your email list(s) and advertising. 
  9. People want to speak to a knowledgeable human being – person to person customer service.
    Automate as much as possible, but have someone or a team who answer(s) telephones and set up a system for online chats, manned by real people, on your site. 
  10. Check the security of your website – often, a single link of http can render the entire page insecure.
    Make sure all the codes are working and that links lead to secure pages, especially on pages where people could be making a purchase. 
  11.  Watch someone navigate your site to understand where the confusion is. 
    That person can be a friend, family member, new employee or beta tester, it doesn't matter as long as they thoroughly go through your website and give you honest feedback. 
  12. Remind people when their subscription or the product has expired.
    Prioritize customer retention with timely renewal notices, phone calls and emails about the upcoming expiration of the subscription or product. Make renewing the service as easy as possible. Set up an autorenew system if possible. Always think retention versus so you don't have to think about regaining lost customers. 
  13. Ask people to subscribe to your service or buy your product in your marketing materials.
    People subscribe to email lists and services to learn more or stay up-to-date on the latest about topics that interest them. Many also want to reeive a special offer or gift such as a discount code or free ticket to an event, get access to free content like an e-book not available on the site. 
    Some people would rather get an email than having to remember to go to your website in case new blogs and content have been added. Conversely, emails can remind subscribers to go to visit the website to see everything new being offered or listed. 
  14. Incentivize your employees so they self motivative and evaluate their own productivity.
    Create a bonus plan with a clear structure so they have goals and know how to meet them. 
  15. Customer service with a smile always leads to customer satisfaction.
    A smile can be heard through the phone, chat and an email. 

Does your startup or small business have these elements? Am I missing any? Let me know  – write to me at, comment on social media post or call me at 561 249-4129.

About the Author: Libby Hikind is the CEO of

Sound Sleep and Starting a Consulting Small Business.

Ever wonder about the backstory behind a new start-up business? After getting her son to sleep through the night, friends and acquaintances started asking teacher Dana Obleman for advice in how to get their children to do it too. She soon realized that helping parents solve their children's sleep problems was what she really wanted to do. With all the people asking for her advice, she saw that there was a market for it. As a new mother, Obleman realized she didn't want to go back to work full time so soon, and at the end of her maternity leave, she decided to take a leap and started a business for the first time. With $1000 she borrowed from family, she built a website, got business cards, and within a few months she was making more money working part time doing what she loved than she had as a full-time teacher. Obleman calls it, “The greatest job in the world.” 

With a tried and true successful method, more and more people started contacting Obleman to teach them how to build a consulting business like hers. She was hesitant at first, thinking that she’d be training her competition, but then she realized that the need was so great and she didn’t have enough time to consult one-on-one with everyone who needed help. Since that time, she’s trained over 200 Sleep Sense consultants around the world.  

Unlike other programs, The Sleep Sense Program accommodates different parenting styles, and allows parents to develop a plan they feel comfortable with, based on what they know about their child.  Parents get an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan that allows them to make choices to determine the right approach for each child, and specific guidance on how to measure success.

Healthy Sleep

Studies show that there are clear benefits to getting enough sleep and developing healthy sleep habits from an early age. Children with healthy sleep habits have been found to do better in school, have higher IQs, lower risk of obesity, better test scores, and (in boys) a lower risk for hyperactivity. Well-rested children are curious, energetic, happy, playful and eager to learn.

Sleep Sense consultants are hand-picked by Sleep Sense creator, Dana Obleman.  Since is inception in 2003, The Sleep Sense Program has helped more than 57,000 parents improve their children’s sleep. 

One such consultant, Cassandra Mosmen's kept hearing friends with children complain how difficult it was to get them to sleep through the night. She decided to be prepared when she was pregnant and started studying up on how to get infants to sleep through the night before she gave birth and avoided this problem as best she could. She started to instill good sleep habits in her daughter as an infant. "It worked and my daughter was a great sleeper. So I started with my other children from day one, and they were great sleepers as well." She noticed that people kept asking her for advice on how to get their children to sleep through the night, and decided this was something she'd like to turn into a consulting business.

After eight years as a stay at home mom, this former early childhood educator decided to follow an entrepreneurial path, committed to helping mother's improve their children's sleep. She looked for the best way to go about starting her sleep consulting business and chose to get certified as a Sleep Sense Pediatric Sleep Consultant. The certification combined with her educational and work experience in early childhood development, enabled Cassandra to help babies and their families get more sleep.

"It's something that can definitely be taught."

Cassandra  chose to go with Dana Obleman's Sleep Sense certification program because she agrees with the Sleep Sense philosophy and methodology and because the training and business model are easy for consultants to follow and build successful businesses. 

toddler sleepingMosmen is working to build her own consultancy brand, Cassandra's Sleep Consulting, modeling the success of her teacher and mentors. She's already built a beautiful website and has a number of clients.

"After undergoing extensive training through the Sleep Sense Certification Program as well as other ongoing sleep education, I have been able to help many families!" 

"Hiring a consultant is very different than just reading a book," Cassandra said.  In addition to their consultations, clients get two to three weeks of phone support and email contact between appointments. 

Benefits to starting your own consulting business:

  • Doing something your passionate about that helps people
  • Being your own boss
  • Greater income potential
  • Not having to answer to anyone else
  • Flexible schedule
  • Ability to be at home for your children and family and not miss any important events.

"I am VERY passionate about what I do. I absolutely love helping families sleep better, because lets face it, sleep is everything!" 

"Sleep when the baby sleeps" is easier said than done! She works with parents of newborns to four year olds to know what to really expect when it comes to sleep (beyond what the books say), and teaches them how to instill healthy sleep habits in their children. 

People starting consulting businesses can often find grants on, or use crowdfunding, or apply for loans toward start-up costs or expanding their businesses. Some of the expenses Obleman and Sleep Sense mentors recommend in starting a consulting business include building a website, advertising and promotion, creating awareness for the new business.  While looking and applying for grants some entrepreneurs become proactive and start crowdfunding campaigns on YouHelp., a free fundraising website, offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking men and women who are looking for funds to start a small business. The process is simple: start a fundraiser, enter your fundraising goal, add a compelling message that donors will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and you do the sharing-out of your campaign, people will pledge their support.

According to Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch, GrantWriterTeam, GrantNews, MWBEzone and YouHelp, says, that while we have made the process simple to open a campaign or to search for small business grants on, no one succeeds in business without passion, persistence and drive."  Libby advises you to, " Find something you love, something you know well and then do the research before starting a small business."

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for YouHelp and MWBEzone. GrantNews does not endorse any products or services other than its own companies.