Having a roof above their heads is not enough to ensure that children will grow up healthy and happy.
Housing is an internationally-recognized human right and it is especially important in a child’s development. However, many families in the United States cannot afford to buy a house.
Home Ownership in the U.S. — an Expensive Dream
People who earn an average income in 344 out of 486 counties do not have enough money to make their dreams of becoming a homeowner a reality. That is about 71% of Americans still relying on rental properties for shelter.
Maintaining a home does not come cheaply, either. Repairs, especially major ones, cost a lot of money that families often had to go into debt. Reroofing, for example, is priced at around $400 and up per square. Although there are cheaper materials and residential roofing services that offer affordable installation fees, it can still affect an entire household’s entire year’s budget.
Letting a house deteriorate can have negative consequences for a child’s overall well-being. Living in a space with poor ventilation, lack of heating and cooling, and pest infestations can lead to adverse health consequences. The child may also grow up with emotional and behavioral problems.
But, what can a parent who is already struggling financially to provide a warm and safe shelter for their children? How does one maintain a house on a tight budget?
It is possible. Follow the tips below.
The best way to save money on repairs is to learn how to do things on your own. Many repair tasks that homeowners usually pay for can be completed without professional expertise.
There are about a hundred tasks that you can do on your own, including patching cracks in drywall, replacing a door, stopping a faucet leak, deep-cleaning upholstery and carpeting, and caulking. There are numerous resources all over the internet to provide tutorials for first-timers.
By doing things on your own, you get to save hundreds of dollars in repairs and maintenance every year.
However, there are certain tasks that you should never attempt unless you are a professional. Anything that involves electricity or the foundation of the house should be handled with care because they may cause an injury or may make the problem worse. In such cases, you have no choice but to pay people to do the work.
There are organizations that provide people the money to repair their homes without expecting anything in return.
The Department of Agriculture has a program for very low-income families to repair and improve their homes. Another program, this time for people with disabilities or seniors, gives out grants that will fund home repairs to improve health, safety, and accessibility.
The Los Angeles International Airport also has a program available for families living in the flight path. The grants will be awarded for different home improvement projects, including double-wall modifications, sound-deadening installation, fireplace and chimney upgrade, etc.
In some states, grants are being handed out in occasional lotteries, but these are rare.
Each state has various grants for homeowners. To find which ones are available to you, you should try contacting housing nonprofits or local offices of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Take advantage of low mortgage rates this year. You can either save up to hundreds of dollars every month or be able to fund a major repair or renovation project. Families can get $20,000 more, for example, by refinancing with low mortgage rates without raising their monthly dues.
It is not, however, for everyone. You should only refinance if you are getting a better deal than your first mortgage i.e. the mortgage rates are significantly lower. You should also be prepared to pay another round of fees and closing costs which can reach over a thousand dollars.
There are loan options available for families that are struggling financially. The FHA(k) and Limited 203(k) loan programs enable borrowers to buy or refinance and provide additional funds for home repairs and upgrades. The Title I Property Improvement Loan program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development funds major repairs or household appliance purchases that will make the property more comfortable and conducive for living.
Going through a financial crisis is more difficult when you have children. Parents always want their children to live a good life, but the world can suddenly throw a curveball that turns everything upside down. Be assured that, if you need to make expensive repairs in your home, there are options out there to fund the project.