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Housing rehabilitation loan & grant programs

Health Factors: Housing & Transit
Decision Makers: Community Development Professionals Local Government State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Housing rehabilitation loan & grant programs provide funding to repair, improve, or modernize dwellings, and remove health or safety hazards from those dwellings. Programs primarily serve families with low and median incomes, and may prioritize services for households with vulnerable members such as young children and elderly adults. These programs can adopt a comprehensive housing improvement strategy or focus on individual housing components such as heating and insulation, plumbing, structural concerns, lead, asbestos, or mold. Programs can be focused at local, state, and federal levels.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Improved health outcomes
Improved mental health
Increased energy efficiency
Reduced hospital utilization
Reduced absenteeism
Improved neighborhood quality

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that housing improvements result in health benefits, especially when improvements focus on increasing warmth through insulation and energy efficiency measures (Thomson 2015Gibson 2011Howden-Chapman 2007NICE-Taske 2005). A Washington DC-based study suggests general housing rehabilitation initiatives can also generate health benefits (Jacobs 2014).

Housing improvements that increase warmth have shown consistently positive effects on respiratory outcomes, overall physical and mental health, and measures of well-being such as self-rated general health. Such improvements have also been shown to reduce children’s absences from school, adult absences from work, doctor’s visits, and hospitalizations (Thomson 2015Howden-Chapman 2007). Low income housing rehabilitation projects that comply with green standards can also improve health outcomes such as asthma, sinusitis, and chronic bronchitis symptoms. Green standards require use of sustainable building products and design elements that reduce moisture, mold, pests, and radon, and improve air quality (Jacobs 2014Breysse 2011). Building deficits such as inadequate heating and ventilation, lead paint, pest infestation, and safety hazards are associated with negative health outcomes such as serious injuries, chronic respiratory illnesses, and poor mental health, and the spread of infectious diseases (Saegert 2003, Krieger 2002a).

Programs that designate funds for low income families and individuals can decrease disparities in access to quality housing and housing-related health outcomes (Jacobs 2014). Housing rehabilitation efforts in low income and declining neighborhoods may also have positive effects on neighborhood quality and stability (Smith 2011aHelms 2012). 

Partnerships between non-profit organizations and government agencies that coordinate housing rehabilitation, weatherization, and energy conservation programs may avoid redundancies in procedure and streamline application, funding, and inspection processes (Rohe 2010). Pooling resources can also support a coordinated approach to addressing safety, health, and energy inefficiencies (HUD-Advancing healthly housing). However, careful coordination is needed to prevent conflicts in funding timelines and renovation schedule requirements among programs (Rohe 2010).

Housing rehabilitation grants are especially beneficial for individuals whose credit scores do not qualify them for loans, and for older adults with lower incomes who are hesitant to take on debt to improve the quality of their housing and accept loans that their children may have to repay (Rohe 2010).


United States

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 203(k) program supports rehabilitation of single family homes. This federal program can be combined with Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), HOME Investment Partnership funds, and other programs (US HUD-203k). 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program’s Section 504 Home Repair program, known as the Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants program, offers loans to very low income homeowners and grants to very low income elderly individuals to improve housing quality and remove safety and health hazards (USDA-Section 504 HRP). The USDA’s Rural Development program also offers Housing Preservation Grants (HPGs) to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, or federally recognized tribes to repair or rehabilitate low and very low income housing in rural areas; individual homeowners are not eligible (USDA-HPG). In 2015, HPGs were awarded for 106 projects in 46 states (USDA-Feroli 2015).

Partnership programs that focus on housing rehabilitation and energy efficiency improvements exist nationwide. The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and Build Healthy Places Network are three organizations that create and coordinate partnerships among stakeholders at the state, county, and city level to promote health through safe housing and community development initiatives (GHHI, LISC, BHPN).

EmPOWER Maryland Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP) is an example of a state-sponsored effort to assist low income families with energy conservation, air quality, and warmth improvements (MD DHCD-EmPOWER). Maine has more than a dozen programs which provide low income families with cash assistance to remedy health and safety hazards in their homes (Maine 211-HRG).


The Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Housing operates the Homebuyer and Rehabilitation Program with funds from the HUD HOME Investment Partnerships Program (WI DOA-HHR) and the WI Community Development Block Grant program for housing rehabilitation (WI DOA-CDBG). 

Implementation Resources

ACEEE-SmarterHouse - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). SmarterHouse: an up-to-date guide on energy savings in the home. Accessed on August 4, 2017
BHPN-Resources - Build Healthy Places Network (BHPN). Network resource library: Access to research, best practices and models demonstrating what works, highlighting the health-related value and impact of community development work. Accessed on July 27, 2016
GHHI-8 elements - Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI). The 8 elements of a green & healthy home. Accessed on July 27, 2016
SWD-Housing resources - (SWD). Fair housing & social work: Online resources. Accessed on July 27, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Breysse 2011 - Breysse J, Jacobs DE, Weber W, et al. Health outcomes and green renovation of affordable housing. Public Health Reports. 2011;126(Suppl 1):64–75. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Gibson 2011 - Gibson M, Petticrew M, Bambra C, et al. Housing and health inequalities: A synthesis of systematic reviews of interventions aimed at different pathways linking housing and health. Health & Place. 2011;17(1):175–84. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Helms 2012* - Helms AC. Keeping up with the Joneses: Neighborhood effects in housing renovation. Regional Science and Urban Economics. 2012;42(1-2):303–13. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Howden-Chapman 2007 - Howden-Chapman P, Matheson A, Crane J, et al. Effect of insulating existing houses on health inequality: Cluster randomized study in the community. BMJ. 2007;334(7591):460. Accessed on August 4, 2017
HUD-Advancing healthly housing - Advancing healthy housing: a strategy for action. A report from the Federal Healthy Homes Work Group, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 2013. Accessed on August 1, 2016
Jacobs 2014 - Jacobs DE, Breysse J, Dixon SL, et al. Health and housing outcomes from green renovation of low-income housing in Washington, DC. Journal of Environmental Health. 2014;76(7):8-16. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Krieger 2002a - Krieger J, Higgins DL. Housing and health: Time again for public health action. American Journal of Public Health. 2002;92(5):758-768. Accessed on July 27, 2016
NICE-Taske 2005 - Taske N, Taylor L, Mulvihill C, et al. Housing and public health: A review of reviews of interventions for improving health - Evidence briefing. London, UK: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE); 2005. Accessed on August 4, 2017
Rohe 2010* - Rohe WM, Cowan SM, Quercia R. Supporting low-income homeowners: Lessons from a program to coordinate weatherization and rehabilitation services. Housing Policy Debate. 2010;20(3):523-546. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Saegert 2003 - Saegert SC, Klitzman S, Freudenberg N, et al. Healthy Housing: A Structured Review of Published Evaluations of US Interventions to Improve Health by Modifying Housing in the United States, 1990-2001. American Journal of Public Health. 2003;93(9):1471-1477. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Smith 2011a* - Smith MM, Hevener CC. The impact of housing rehabilitation on local neighborhoods: The case of small community development organizations. American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 2011;70(1):50–85. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Thomson 2015 - Thomson H, Thomas S. Developing empirically supported theories of change for housing investment and health. Social Science & Medicine. 2015;124:205-214. Accessed on July 27, 2016

Citations - Implementation

BHPN - Build Healthy Places Network (BHPN). Working at the intersection of community development and health. Accessed on July 29, 2016
GHHI - Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI). Learn about home health hazards: Learn the warning signs of home health hazards and how to create a healthy, safe, energy efficient and sustainable home. Accessed on July 29, 2016
LISC - Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Helping neighbors build communities: LISC equips struggling communities with the capital, strategy and know-how to become places where people can thrive. Accessed on July 29, 2016
Maine 211-HRG - Maine 211 Directory for Services; United Ways of Maine. Maine home rehabilitation grants (HRG). Accessed on July 29, 2016
MD DHCD-EmPOWER - Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (MD DHCD). EmPOWER Maryland Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP). Accessed on July 29, 2016
US HUD-203k - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). 203(k) rehabilitation mortgage insurance. Accessed on February 23, 2017
USDA-Feroli 2015 - Feroli C. USDA announces $3.7 million to repair rural housing: Funding will remove health and safety hazards, make homes more energy efficient. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) News Release No. 0299.15; 2015. Accessed on February 6, 2017
USDA-HPG - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development Programs & Services. Housing preservation grants (HPG): Program 101. Accessed on February 16, 2017
USDA-Section 504 HRP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Programs & Services. Section 504 Home repair program (HRP): Single family housing repair loans & grants, program 101. Accessed on February 16, 2017
WI DOA-CDBG - Wisconsin Department of Administration (WI DOA). Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)-Small cities housing program. Accessed on August 11, 2017
WI DOA-HHR - Wisconsin Department of Administration (WI DOA). HOME Homebuyer and rehabilitation program (HHR). Accessed on August 11, 2017

Page Last Updated

July 27, 2016

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