Are you a single mother who has recently purchased a "fixer-upper" as a first home? Are you recently divorced and finding yourself in a home that was left with unfinished projects your ex-husband promised he'd finish "one day"?
The reality of water damage, mold, leaky faucets and overflowing toilets is enough to drive even the most sane person mad. Add to this the rigors of single parenting and the challenges of also juggling a career, and you might very well have a recipe for disaster on your hands.
If these scenarios describe you, or if you can relate to them in any way, you may also be overwhelmed by the prospect of having to fund such projects when you can barely make your mortgage and keep food on the table.
Define your goals for home improvement.
Why are the improvements necessary? Are the improvements being made to address health and safety/livability issues? Or, are the improvements being made for other reasons? If the improvements are being made to address health and safety issues, be sure to explain what needs to be done to bring your home into compliance and to correct the current problem. Your home improvement goals will help you in determining the types of financial assistance you may qualify for. This is most definitely information that you will want to commit to writing, because it is highly likely that you will have to present it to someone involved in the financing review process.
Compile a home improvement priority list and plan. Once you have clearly defined your goals, take the time to itemize and prioritize the improvements to be made. For instance, if you need to have 10 improvements completed, make a list of those 10 improvements in order of importance with the most important being the first improvement and so on. This step can easily be an extension of Step 1 above. In the event that you are not able to get financing for your entire home improvement project due to limited funding availability, it is imperative that the areas of most severe deterioration or safety threat are addressed with any funding you are able to secure.
Contact your local assistance agencies. There are literal gold mines of information, resources and services available right in your local community. Often, it is simply a matter of accessing them that can make the difference. Every community has state- and federally-funded programs set up to facilitate community redevelopment, restoration and rehabilitation. These agencies should be able to answer your questions and guide your through the process to securing financial assistance for your proposed home improvement project. At a minimum, these agencies will be able to refer you to the proper agency which can determine your eligibility and, ultimately, approve assistance for you.
Contact local elected officials. This is probably one of the most overlooked ways of getting help for home improvement and other matters. You have elected officials at the local, state, and Federal levels that your tax dollars pay salaries to. Put them to work for you. When you make contact with your elected officials, it is always best to put in writing exactly why you are making the contact and what you are asking them to assist you with. Be very clear about it. Consider including your goals from Step 1 and your plan from Step 2. Usually, the elected officials have a staff person who will respond to you with a phone call, e-mail or letter. The return correspondence should include the titles of any grant programs available as well as the agencies you need to contact to apply for grants or other types of funding for home improvements that include specific qualifiers for single mothers.
Talk to a reference librarian. Reference librarian are the hidden treasures of the information world. Visit your local library and talk to a reference librarian. If they are not able to get you the information you need specifically, they most certainly will be able to tell you how to get to it. The information may be online or in any number of catalogs or directories. Again, be very clear about what you are looking for. Any library worth its salt will have at least virtual access to local, state and federal grant and loan programs designed specifically for home improvements.