Millions of Americans seek out affordable housing options each year. Many are struggling to make ends meet and end up spending more than they can afford on their homes. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 30% of a household’s income or less should go to rent and/or mortgage. (Basically, any housing cost should not take more than 30% of your income as a household.)
Unfortunately, many Americans pay over this amount. In fact, according to Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide affordable housing to all in need, reported that roughly 38 million households across America are paying more than 30% of their income towards their housing. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)
When families have to spend more on housing, they have less money for other necessities like food, utilities and healthcare. Fortunately, other organizations have seen the housing crisis America is facing, and are offering solutions. There are now several resources that will help Americans out there find affordable housing and advocate your rights as a tenant. Many of these affordable housing resources can be found online, so you will not have to go back and forth from one office to the next.
What is Affordable Housing, Again?
According to the Housing and Urban Development Department, housing is considered affordable, if a household spends 30% of their income on housing. This includes the upkeep costs and utilities to maintain the housing unit. But, in reality, this varies on a case-by-case basis. For some people, paying 31% or even 35% on their housing unit means next-to-nothing. Others might find paying 29% on their housing unit as burdensome to their standard of living. (Yglesias)
Affordable housing programs are becoming a growing concept in the United States, to combat the housing issue. Affordable housing programs can appear as subsidized housing, financial assistance, or both. This means that you can receive financial assistance that will help you pay for your rental property. Also, you can find that there are rental units that offer reduced rental prices for affordable housing recipients. This all depends on your current situation and what you need to improve your situation.
However, affordable housing programs have eligibility requirements that you need to meet. Typically, these Programs focus on your household and your income level, since they target low and moderate income individuals and families.
The Best Online Affordable Housing Resource
You read that right, we are going to tell you all about the most important online affordable housing resource. That would be the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which is a coalition that contributes to providing low-income families and individuals with better access to affordable housing. If you have never heard of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, then you should definitely check out their website. The NLIHC’s website provides all the available affordable housing programs and it even informs you on your tenant rights.
If you have heard about it, then it would be best that you regularly check their website. The website is constantly updated and available affordable housing programs are added. You will be able to look through and find out which affordable housing program is the right one for you, based on your current situation. (Don’t worry, you will find a program that will help you out of your tight spot.)
The National Low Income Housing Coalition
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has dedicated itself to providing better access to affordable housing for qualifying low-income families. It is also working on increasing available resources by focusing on particular policies. In fact, you may recognize some popular relief assistance they have provided in the past, like the National Low Income Housing Coalition CARES Act.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition CARES Act states that “The CARES Act requires landlords to provide a 30-day notice to tenants prior to eviction. This Act covers properties supported by HUD, USDA, and Treasury (Low Income Housing Tax Credit), and properties with federally-backed mortgages (e.g., FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac).” (National Low Income Housing Coalition)
Their website has highly valuable information including tips for public housing residents, community opportunities and research on policy issues. They also have newsletters that keep low-income individuals up to date on the current relevant news.
NLIHC connects with state coalitions throughout the country to provide a stronger voice when advocating for affordable housing. If a person needs assistance, it would be beneficial for them to reach out to all locales and entities. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s main purpose is to support affordable housing and combat the widespread housing issue across the United States.
What Can the National Low Income Housing Coalition Do For You?
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has several initiatives that they are currently working on. These initiatives are meant to combat the housing issue that has spread across the United States. Each and every NLIHC initiative is designed to help low-income families and individuals.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition assisted in the creation of the National Housing Trust Fund. This Fund is a housing initiative that was established in 1974, which helps in the building, renovating, and managing of affordable rental properties in low-income communities. Furthermore, the NLIHC is the head of the Housing Trust Fund and Policy Group. The National Low Income Housing Coalition advocates for low-income housing in Congress by supporting tax reform and infrastructure investments. Additionally, The NLIHC takes on a major role in public policy towards swaying officials. The National Low Income Housing Coalition promotes the preservation and increase of funds for affordable housing programs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Low Income Housing Coalition created several rental assistance programs, which you can find on their official website. These rental assistance programs will allow you to pay a reduced price of the rent, as opposed to the rental price before the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valuable Tools of the National Low Income Housing Coalition
The organization also has other valuable resources including a Rental Housing Database, as well as a “Renters in Foreclosure Toolkit”. Both are available on the NLIHC website and can help a person connect to other programs.
Federal affordable housing assistance only goes so far. These assistance programs help roughly 25% of qualifying Americans. This means many are out of luck. However, the Rental Housing Database makes it possible to view and separate the available programs. This means that you can find all of the available programs, without waiting for a Program to open its waiting list.
The Renters In Foreclosure Toolkit is another beneficial tool for those facing the loss of their homes. It helps readers navigate the world of foreclosure. In fact, it will help you properly understand the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), because there’s no agency responsible for enforcing these regulations. Tenants need to have an understanding of the Act’s rules to be able to apply them. As a tenant, you have rights and you should know what they are and how to implement them, whenever necessary. One of the most essential rights as a tenant would be the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA).
What is the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act or the PFTA?
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act “requires the immediate successor in interest at foreclosure to provide bona fide tenants with notice 90 days before requiring them to vacate the property and allows tenants with leases to occupy the property until the end of the lease term.” This means that as a bona fide tenant, you must receive a 90-day notice before you need to leave the property. Also, as a tenant that has a lease with your landlord, you are allowed to stay until your lease expires. (Johnson)
You might be wondering about the “bona fide tenant” and if that applies to you. The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act defines the bona fide tenant as “one in which: the tenant is neither the mortgagor, nor the spouse, parent, or child of the mortgagor; the lease or tenancy is the result of an arm’s length transaction; and, the lease or tenancy requires rent that is not substantially lower than fair market rent, or is reduced or subsidized due to a federal, state, or local subsidy.” It basically means that the tenant is not in any way, shape, or form related to the landlord. Also the rent of the property is not significantly lower than the market value’s rent, or subsidized. These two conditions apply to bona fide tenants. (Federal Reserve)
Along with the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, there are many rights that you have as a tenant that you can enforce if you ever face injustice. If you do not know what they are, then you should start researching about it, in case you find yourself on the receiving end of a bad landlord.
Affordable housing is an easy task in theory, but it is almost always hard to achieve, in reality. The truth is that affordable housing is not a common practice among Americans. Affordable housing means that you spend no less than 30% of your income on housing costs. This includes rent and\or mortgage. If you spend more than 30%, then you are not considered a participant of affordable housing. Due to the rising housing issue that spread across the United States, many organizations are doing their best to come up with a solution for low-income families and individuals. One of the most supportive organizations would be the National Low Income Housing Coalition. With numerous resources at your fingertips, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition, you can eliminate the confusion and put a plan in action.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition provides qualifying families and individuals with better access to affordable housing programs and resources. This initiative is a strong advocate of increasing funding of federal housing assistance programs. Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NLIHC created several rent assistance programs to help families and individuals avoid eviction. Along with swaying government officials on increase of infrastructure investments and creating housing assistance programs, the NLIHC does something else that goes above and beyond.
The NLIHC offers an extensive resource of tenant rights all across the United States. All you have to do is open their website and browse through; you will find all of your rights as a tenant outlined for you. One of the main tenant rights that the NLIHC advocates is the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, or the PFTA, allows tenants to be notified in 90 days before they are required to vacate the property. This means that you will not have to live by the end of the week, but you will have time to figure out your next move and plan ahead. (All thanks to the Protecting Tenants at the Foreclosure Act.)
It makes sense that housing would be a big issue for you, since where you live and how you live defines so much of your life. But, you should not worry if you find yourself in a tight spot and you cannot think of a way out. If you are in need or know someone who is, there are programs available to help you navigate the world of affordable housing. You may have more options available than you think; all you have to do is know where to look. Luckily, the National Low Income Housing Coalition will help you with that.
Federal Reserve. “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure.” Federal Reserve. 27 07 2021 <https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/200911/protect.pdf>.
Johnson, Kimberly. “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure.” 2021 ADVOCATES’ GUIDE (2021): 6 – 27.
National Alliance to End Homelessness. Affordable Housing. 2021. 27 07 2021 <https://endhomelessness.org/ending-homelessness/policy/affordable-housing/>.
National Low Income Housing Coalition. Federal Eviction Moratoriums. 22 06 2020. 27 07 2021 <https://nlihc.org/federal-moratoriums>.
Yglesias, Matthew. Everything you need to know about the affordable housing debate. 11 05 2015. 02 07 2021 <https://www.vox.com/2014/4/10/18076868/affordable-housing-explained>.