Home ownership is a goal for many Americans, but often their personal financial situations prevent them from realizing that dream. There are, however, public and private grants available to help you bridge the gap between what you have and what you need to buy a house.
Grants to help citizens obtain a place to call home started with the federal Homestead Act of 1862. The Homestead Act allowed any U.S. citizen -- male or female -- who was the head of a household or who was 21 and had never fought against the Union, to file an application for a land grant of 160 acres of government-owned land. The land wound not cost the homesteaders anything if they could meet specific qualifications, such as living on the land for five years and making certain improvements, for example, planting crops.
Most grants offered today are down-payment grants that cover the required down payment and your closing costs. Depending upon where you live, there may also be grants for purchasing a specific type of housing or for buying within a certain geographic area.
Each entity that provides grant money has its own specific criteria to determine who is qualified to receive its funds. Many federal government programs, for instance, are only available to a first-time home buyer -- defined by the government as someone who has not owned a home or had a mortgage in the last three years. Carefully read the application of any grant you are interested in applying for to determine whether you meet the stated requirements.
You can find grant money for home buying offered by the federal government by contacting agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Rural Development, or by searching the Catalog of Federal Assistance. You can also contact private charitable organizations such as AmeriDream, Nehemiah Corporation of America and American Family Funds.
Be aware that there are many unsavory marketers that prey on the hopes of potential home buyers by guaranteeing to show them how to easily obtain “free money.” They require a fee for the information or services they claim to provide and in return offer you very little of value. These types of advertisements are fraudulent; no one can guarantee you a grant.
Lisa Wilson has a diverse background that includes starting and running a construction company, working as a business consultant, and three years as the development director for a Catholic high school. She has freelanced for 10 years and has been published in "Irish America," "Woodcraft" and various trade journals and newspapers.