Grant-Funded Home Repairs for Qualified Tenants

As we enter the city’s new fiscal year it’s a good time to ask: Do you know that there are federal Community Development Block grant funds available for free home repairs for tenants? The feds will fund mobility enhancements, weather protection, water conservation and even some aspects of apartment maintenance long-ignored by the landlord. The catch: tenants must qualify and landlords must agree!

The federal Community Development Block grant-funded Home Handyworker program administered by the city provides free home repairs for tenants. Check out the (program flyer). The program nothing to sneeze at: last year the government funded repairs that totaled $110,000 for tenants. Repairs can be as much as $10,000 and in some cases $15,000 per household. That’s more than enough to help a senior who needs bathroom handrails or a low-to-moderate income tenant who needs repairs like new carpet, paint, or other improvements.

Again, as a Community Development Block Grant program it is eligible for only low-income households below these thresholds:

Maximum household income to qualify (by household size)
1 person 2 persons 3 persons 4 persons 5 persons 6 persons 7 persons 8 persons
$54,250 $62,000 $69,750 $77,500 $83,700 $89,900 $89,100 $102,300

For tenants concerned about old carpets or worn interior paint, and who find the landlord not responsive, the Home Handyworker program may be the answer.

From the program description:

The Handyworker Program provides minor home repair, accessibility and security improvements to low income renters and homeowners in both single and multi-family units…Most maintenance issues and home repairs not requiring a permit are eligible, including: exterior/interior painting, minor plumbing, handicapped ramps, stair railings, floor and window repairs, grab bars….

Again, the landlord needs to agree, but for tenants with some disability the landlord is obliged to make a reasonable accommodation. That can be shower bars or other mobility enhancements. The program will pay.

Why Home Handyworker Is Important

We hear from tenants who go out-of-pocket to paint and to replace old carpets, worn fixtures, and tattered furnishings. They shouldn’t have to maintain the landlord’s property but the law includes no specific requirement to make the apartment habitable for the tenant.

The city often fields calls from tenants who are concerned about interior maintenance. However Beverly Hills falls back on the state’s requirements for a ‘tenantable’ dwelling: heat, hot water, locking doors and windows and not much more. So some landlords under-invest in maintenance because they can.

Home Handyworker may be able to pick up the slack. Why haven’t you heard of the program? The city has historically not advertised it. Even today one has to dig down into the Community Services department webpages to find it on the Human Services webpage. Unfortunately it is not mentioned on the Rent Stabilization Program webpages at all! Renters Alliance provides the flyer as a public service announcement.

Please reach out to program contact Elizabeth Davis at (213) 407-4146 or by email: elizabeth.davis@mbakerintl.com. If you have any questions about eligibility contact James Latta in the city’s Community Services department. Find him at (310) 285-2535 or by email: jlatta@beverlyhills.org. Then get in touch with Renters Alliance because we are very keen to know if this program is serving tenants.