Many state government and local municipalities offer their own grant programs. They are usually issued to non-profit organizations in the state, and those agencies will accept applications and disburse funds to those who apply and qualify.
In general, government grants can be used for many reasons and to address a variety of needs. Some can be used to help pay bills, and the most well known will be LIHEAP. Others can be used to pay down debt, in particular student loans. Some of the other more common uses can be to start or expand a business, pay for health care costs/medical bills, reimburse for education expenses, and many other reasons. Some of the more common applications are as follows.
Many states offer first-time homebuyer down payment assistance and support services. So grants can be issued to local public housing agencies, HUD certified organizations, or non-profits. Funds can be used to pay for closing costs, provide free homebuyer counseling, or so called self-help mortgage assistance programs. Assistance can be provided to individual households from a local housing authority in the form of deferred-payment loans, which means you do not have to pay interest if you meet all conditions. So if the homeowner abides by the program terms, this loan in effect becomes a grant. Call a local HUD approved housing agency and inquire into any first time homebuyer programs they may offer.
Additional housing programs include repairs and home rehabilitation. Most states offer this resource for seniors, homebound, the disabled, and very low income families who are currently residing in unsafe homes. It will often even include manufactured homes. Usually a local community action agency in your town or county will oversee this grant.
Federal government funding is provided to every state as part of the Community Services Block Grant/CSBG. Your local community action agency will oversee the program, and the money can be used for a number of reasons.
The main objective is to help low income and working poor families. This can mean a lot of things. For example, funds can be used to pay for the development of low income housing. Your local agency will usually create some type of job training or employment program for the unemployed and people looking to get out of poverty. Emergency services can usually be provided by the Community Services Block Grant, and this can include food, transportation assistance, and rent. Persons of low to moderate income and seniors are the main beneficiaries.
Another very common use of government grants is to pay for education. Depending on the state, thousands of dollars can be provided to college students and people who are looking to go back to school. Funds can be used to pay for college expenses at various colleges, both private and public universities. Some states will even help with reimbursing for technical or vocational schools. Depending on the state and type of grant, money can be used to pay for a variety of expenses, including room, tuition, textbooks and board.
Other job training programs that are really only available due to grants are the Workforce Investment Act, Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs, and Youth Services. Each and every state, and the federal government, offer some form of employment and job training, and your local human services or community action agency will be your best point of contact.
The Section 8 Housing Assistance Program is really paid for by grants that are issued from the US Housing and Urban Development. These funds are provided to each and every state, and the Public Housing Agency (PHAs) that operate in them. Money is used to provide vouchers to the very low income for paying rent and to also create the Family Self-Sufficiency Programs. You will need to call your local PHA for information.
Some of the grants that are used for paying bills include LIHEAP, which is offered by the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to that, rent, energy bills, and food is offered from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Another common offering is the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which helps children and senior citizens. Call a non-profit in your state to inquire about any of these.
Any of the state resources that may be listed will usually come with restrictions. For example in almost all cases the government issued grants and loans are not paid out directly to residents or individuals. Almost all of the resources are provided directly to local public non-profit agencies, service providers, housing developers, colleges, and job centers. Then, in most cases, these agencies will provide the funds to those individuals who apply and also meet conditions.