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1. Has your community adopted the Community Preservation Act (CPA)?

(CPA is a program that provides funding for open space, affordable housing, and historic preservation projects.)

To find out if your town has adopted CPA, go to the Community Preservation Coalition’s website. On this page – – there’s a drop-down list of all the CPA towns in Massachusetts. If your town’s name is on the list, contact your CPA Committee to find out about application procedures. Contact information should be on your town’s website or available at your Town or City Hall.

(NOTE: Every community has its own standards for projects; some are reluctant to fund projects involving private property, because CPA projects must provide a “public benefit.” However, there have been instances where communities have funded private preservation work in exchange for a preservation easement or some other guarantee that ensures the project provides a public benefit.)


2. Does your community’s Historical Commission have a grant or loan program for homeowners?

In a few communities, like Cambridge, the Historical Commission manages a grant or loan program to assist property owners in rehabilitating historic structures. Check with your Historical Commission to see whether your community does.

3. Does your community have a grant or loan program for homeowners?

Some communities have Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) or other sources of funding to assist homeowners with fixing up their property. Check with your community’s Planning and/or Community Development Department to see whether they have such a program.

If you live in a small town, CDBG and similar programs are often managed through the Regional Planning Agency (RPA) rather than the municipality. You can find a list of the state’s Regional Planning Agencies online here:


4. Do you live in a rural community?

The US Department of Agriculture sometimes has some grant and loan programs for homeowners in rural areas.

Go to this webpage for information:


5. Would you be willing to sell or donate a preservation easement for the property?

A preservation easement is a deed-related restriction that provides protection for historic structures. Sometimes communities will use CPA funds to purchase preservation easements on historic properties.

Preservation easements can also be donated or sold to government entities or non-profit organizations like Historic New England . While a donation won’t get you the funds you need to repair your home, easements can help you to get income tax deductions or to lower your property taxes.

For information on preservation easements, go to:


6.  Will there be any business use associated with the property?

If your home is also an income-producing property (for example, you’re operating a bed & breakfast, part of the home is used for business purposes, or it’s a multi-family home), the rehabilitation work you do might be eligible for state and federal historic tax credits.

There’s information on tax credits for houses on the National Park Service’s website here:

You can also find information on historic preservation tax credits here:

Federal credit:

State credit:


7. Is the house located on a farm or land that has conservation/open space potential?

While there might not be funding for the house itself, there might be funding to help keep the property in agriculture or preserve it as open space. You might be able to pay for renovations to the house by selling the development rights to the community, to the state, or to a conservation organization. Communities often purchase development rights to land using CPA funds.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), through its Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (APR), purchases development rights to farmland in order to ensure that the land remains in agriculture. Information about the program is online here:

(MDAR also has many other grant and loan programs for farmers. Check out their website for more information.)

Land trusts and conservation organizations will often purchase or accept donations of development rights to agricultural or open-space properties. The Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition has a list of land trusts on its website:


8. Is there a trade or vocational school in your area?

Sometimes trade or vocational schools will take on rehabilitation projects as part of their coursework. This could reduce the cost of your rehab project. However, you’ll need to be sure that the instructors and supervisors for the project are familiar with working with historic structures, and that students’ work will be well-monitored.

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