If you feel like you are constantly being drained when paying your rent, then you are not alone. In fact, according to the Center for Housing Policy, the costs of transportation and housing have increased by 44% since the year 2000. This is a lot compared to the household incomes that have only increased by 25%. In 2021, 24 million low-income Americans spent a majority of their yearly income on the costs of transportation and housing. That’s why it is no surprise that there are more than 10.4 million people in 5.2 million U.S. households that receive some type of federal aid, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
You may have many options for assistance, but federal government housing assistance programs can be the most reliable. You will have to be eligible to receive any assistance; it is not an easy thing. However, it may feel overwhelming trying to navigate federal assistance. Luckily, that doesn’t need to be the case and it can be easier to file for federal assistance than you expect. There are different federal government housing assistance programs, which will help provide financial relief to your current situation. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
This article will inform you on the different housing assistance programs that are funded by the federal government. We will also tell you how you can benefit from the programs and how you can apply.
Government Housing Assistance Programs
With government housing assistance programs, there are four main types of programs that can help you. The federal government is responsible for these housing assistance programs, but the local and state government is responsible for implementing them. This means that each state varies from the other and you might find discrepancies between two states. You should keep that in mind while you are applying for a government housing assistance program. Also, it is really important that you apply for programs that will actually help you. It is unfair of you to apply to a program that will not help you; you will be taking away that assistance from someone else. This is why you should apply to a housing assistance program that will help you in your current situation.
Privately-Owned Subsidized Housing
If you want to avoid waiting for government-subsidized housing, then you may want to consider privately-owned options instead. Private landlords or property management companies own these types of housing complexes. They are required to offer a set number of their apartments at a reduced rate for qualifying tenants, in exchange to receive a tax credit. These complexes are referred to as “mixed-income housing.” This is due to the fact that there are both normal units and reduced rate units in the same complex.
The amount that you are responsible for is dependent on a variety of factors. Some property managers offer a flat reduced rate to qualifying individuals, while others may base your rent on your monthly income. A good rule of thumb is the less you get a month means the less rent you are responsible for.
In order to qualify for privately-owned subsidized housing, you must:
- Pass a background check
- Make less than the maximum monthly income amount specified. (This will vary based on location)
- Meet the landlord’s rent qualifications
The landlord might require certain conditions and criteria from their tenants. This means that you will need to meet these eligibility requirements to qualify. Unlike with government-based housing assistance programs, the eligibility requirements depend on the preference of the landlord or property manager.
Rent Payment Assistance
There are programs that assist with housing by helping with the cost of rent. A common program is the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8 Assistance. This is a program where the recipient will receive a voucher that is eligible to go towards rent from any place that accepts vouchers and passes state inspections.
The Section 8 program is when a voucher that was provided to a qualifying tenant pays a portion of their rent. Typically, the local Public Housing Authority will set a voucher amount based on eligibility. You may be eligible to have your housing voucher cover the entire cost of rent. Another option is that you can have the housing voucher go towards a more expensive rent and pay the difference. In order to qualify for this program, you will need to:
- Meet your area’s low-income requirements
- Discover a Section 8-approved property
- Get your application accepted by the landlord
Similar to public housing, this program has long wait times. You can be on this list for a very long time based on available vouchers. Also, while you are looking through the Section 8 Program, you should consider the four factors of eligibility. The four factors that will determine your eligibility are: your citizenship status, your eviction history, your income level, and your household size.
This is a type of federally subsidized rental property. It can be an apartment complex, a cluster of private houses, or a series of duplex houses. This will depend on where you live. Complexes are funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) but are managed by the local Public Housing Authorities. You must meet the local Public Housing Authority’s requirements in order to sign the lease. Once you sign the lease, it is very similar to moving into a unit that is owned by a private landlord.
In order to see if you are eligible for public housing, you must:
- Meet your area’s low-income requirements
- Pass a background check with references
- Be a U.S. citizen or have a qualifying immigration status
- Meet with your local Public Housing Authority agent in person.
According to HUD, almost one million households are currently living in public housing. Keep in mind that these living units have limited space. There are typically long waitlists before a unit becomes available for a new recipient. Since there is an increased demand on public housing and there is a deficit in funds, you might have to wait for a while. You should also keep in mind that there are eligibility requirements you need to meet to qualify for public housing. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
Rental Assistance in Rural Areas
You may be able to qualify for exclusive types of private subsidized housing. The United States Department of Agriculture offers this Program. This program was designed to provide property owners with tax incentives by offering units at a reduced rate for qualifying families. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in order to qualify, you must live in or be willing to move into an approved rental property with rent that must be more than 30% of your household’s adjusted income.
If you want to apply for the Rural Rental Assistance program, you will need to:
- Prove that you have a qualifying income
- Also prove that you have a qualifying rent
- Pass the landlord’s specific eligibility requirements
As of June 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture Program of Rural Rental Assistance is helping more than 250,000 Americans across the United States. According to the USDA, the Rural Rental Assistance Program “provides homeownership opportunities to rural Americans, and home renovation and repair programs. USDA also provides financing to elderly, disabled, or low-income rural residents in multi-unit housing complexes to ensure that they are able to make rent payments.” ((USDA))
There are other options available like the housing counseling assistance program. Also, there are assistance options that are not federally managed. You may want to consider options that are provided by charitable organizations or your state government. State programs may include aid options that help with emergency rent, making money fast, free money management counseling, and more.
A lot of charities also provide one-time assistance options for qualifying individuals. These funds can go towards housing costs, like a security deposit. All programs vary in eligibility requirements, so make sure to see what the requirements are to qualify. Typically, programs rely on your income as a main factor of eligibility. Since the main goal of housing assistance is to help low-income families and individuals, you will need to be under the low-income bracket. (Technically, the poorer you are then the better, in these types of situations.)
Also, you can apply for a housing assistance program that will not help with housing, but will help you with housing repairs. This program is known as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). You can receive financial assistance on the repair of heating and cooling issues in your housing unit, payment of bills, energy crises you might face, and\or weatherization of the housing unit. (Benefits.gov)
How to Apply for Government Housing Assistance Programs
The application process can vary significantly. Some states allow online applications, while others only allow mail-in applications. You might find that some prefer the applicant to visit a physical office. The best course of action for you to take is to contact your local Public Housing Authority. Your local PHA will help you find out what you need in order to qualify for these programs. Before applying, you want to make sure you have documentation ready like:
- Social Security numbers for all the members of the household
- Your driver’s license or state-issued I.D.
- Recent pay stubs or any proof of income
- Copy of a recent bank statement
- Copy of your lease agreement
During the application process, there is one more important fact that you need to keep in mind. Your eligibility for the Program is determined based on an analysis of the documents you provide. The documents you provide are proof of your financial situation, which is what the Program wants to find out.
It can be difficult to handle rent and that could lead to you being stressed out all the time. However, that is why assistance options have been created. There are more help options available than you may realize. You will find that the federal government provides four different types of housing assistance programs. The four types of housing assistance programs are: privately-owned subsidized housing, rent assistance programs, public housing, and rental assistance in rural areas. Each government program offers housing assistance in a different way, but they are all helpful.
With privately-owned subsidized housing, private owners and property managers provide housing units for rent at a reduced rate. Most property managers subsidize housing units at a reduced price, in exchange for tax credit. Another housing assistance program is the Section 8 Assistance Program. Section 8 Program provides qualified families and individuals with housing vouchers that cover the amount of rent. As a recipient, you will only need to pay 30% of their income on housing and the housing voucher covers the rest of the rent payment.
The third type of program is public housing, which offers federally subsidized rental housing units. The federal government backs this Program, but the local Public Housing Authority supervises the implementation. Finally, the United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for the Rental Assistance for Rural Areas Program. This program creates relief to provide property owners with tax incentives by offering units at a reduced rate for qualifying families. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in order to qualify, you must live in or be willing to move into an approved rental property with rent that must be more than 30% of your household’s adjusted income.
Make Sure That…
Make sure to contact your local Public Housing Authority to see what type of assistance options you may qualify for. Just make sure that you find a housing assistance program that will help you improve your current financial situation.
(USDA), United States Department of Agriculture. Housing Assistance. 2021. 28 07 2021 <https://www.usda.gov/topics/rural/housing-assistance>.
Benefits.gov. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 29 07 2021 <https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/623>.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Federal Rental Assistance Fact Sheets. 01 06 2021. 28 07 2021 <https://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/federal-rental-assistance-fact-sheets#US>.