Affordable Housing Guide for Renters

Many Americans have a hard time keeping up with their monthly rent payments. If you struggle with your rent, then you’re not alone. Luckily, there is support available for those in need. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) created a variety of housing programs that aim to help people dealing with financial hardship.

Available Housing Assistance

There are plenty of different assistance opportunities available for renters who need help with their housing costs:

  • Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Public Housing
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
  • Natural Disaster Housing
  • Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities
  • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly

Housing Choice Voucher Program

Also referred to as “section 8”, this program is a federal rental assistance option that can help eligible individuals and is offered by HUD. This program provides housing vouchers for a specific amount that the recipient can use towards their housing costs like rent, utilities, etc. The amount of the voucher is based on information found on the application like income level, family status, and more.

These vouchers can not be used at any property. Instead, they will only be able to be used at properties that accept them as a form of payment. The properties that accept these will need to be approved by your local public housing authority (PHA) since they are the ones who manage the program.

It is important to note that this program should not be confused with the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher. That program is a separate section 8 opportunity that helps recipients in a different way! We will touch more on it later on in the article.

Public Housing

This program provides affordable rental communities for people to benefit from. These rental communities are usually apartments but can be different kinds of properties depending on the location. Your local PHA will be the ones to manage these properties however it is still a HUD program.

Recipients of this program assistance will pay either 10% of their gross monthly income (except any exclusions), 30% of their monthly adjusted income, or a minimum rent no more than $50. The amount that will be paid varies so if you have any questions you will want to check with your PHA.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is a program that aims to create more affordable apartment opportunities. The type of housing it creates is referred to as mixed income housing since not all units of the property will have affordable rent.

The tax credits wouldn’t go towards the tenant but instead go towards the property owner. It’s meant to act as a tax incentive to create more affordable housing! The rent structure will vary based on the property so if you are interested in one of these properties you will need to confirm with them.

Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance

We talked about this program option earlier. Do not get this confused with the section 8 housing choice voucher program. This project-based rental assistance option is also referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) program. Recipients of this program will need to be pay one of the following options:

  • None of their income
  • 30% of their monthly adjusted income
  • At least $25 in rent

Natural Disaster Housing 

People can’t avoid natural disasters. These disasters can occur multiple times throughout the year all over the country. Whether it be an earthquake, a wildfire, a hurricane, a mudslide, etc., they may result in evacuation of the area, property damage, or even death. Oftentimes, people don’t have the means to recover when one of these events happens. Luckily there are housing opportunities offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA may be able to give direct housing assistance, temporary housing assistance, and more.

Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities

Eligible individuals with a disability can benefit from this program. Section 811 aims to provide those with disabilities affordable housing assistance. Recipients of this program will pay either 30% of their net monthly income or 10% of their gross income towards rent (whichever is higher). However, there may be exceptions to this! The units available for recipients are owned by either a private property management company or a private owner.

Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly 

Senior citizens can have an especially hard time handling housing costs. With the help of this program, elderly Americans can pay 30% of their net income towards rent. Just like Section 811, the properties are owned by either a private management company or an individual private owner.

What if You Can’t Qualify for Rental Housing Assistance?

Sometimes even those dealing with financial hardship may not be able to qualify for the rental housing assistance they need. If that’s the case, there are still options that you may be able to benefit from. In terms of housing you may be able to make your expenses more affordable by:

  • Getting a Roommate
  • Downsizing
  • Relocating

Besides making your housing more affordable, you may be able to save money by getting assistance from other programs like:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Make Housing More Affordable

Besides housing assistance programs you may be able to make housing costs more affordable by doing other means!

Getting a Roommate

When you get help from a roommate you could save hundreds! Let’s look at an example. Let’s say in the area you live in, rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,000 but a two bedroom is $1,400. Instead of handling the $1,000 rent on your own, you can split the cost of $1,400 between two people. That would mean that each person is only responsible for $700. That saves you $300 right out the gate!

Downsizing

You could also consider downsizing if your housing costs are too much. A rental community with amenities like a pool, a gym, etc., will generally be more expensive than a building with no amenities. You may find that you can also move into a smaller apartment like a studio compared to a one bedroom. A studio may cost $800 compared to a 1 bedroom that costs $1,000!

Relocating

Another option that you may want to consider is relocation if possible. If you don’t need to stay in a certain area, you may benefit from moving to a more affordable area. For example, the average 1 bedroom apartment in Beverly Hills, CA costs $2,950 while the average cost of a 1 bedroom in Ogden, UT is just $1,096. The price of an apartment depends on many factors and location is a big one! You may be able to save up to thousands if you move to a different area.

Other Assistance Programs That Can Help You Save

Besides housing assistance and making housing more affordable, you may be able to save money through the help of other assistance programs. The money you save can go towards housing so that you can better handle the costs that you have to deal with!

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Groceries are a costly bill that can be hard for some people to deal with. That’s why SNAP aims to help. Recipients of this program will receive funds on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. The card can then be used at stores that accept it as a form of payment. The amount of funds will vary based on information like income level, family status, etc.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Sometimes parents can find themselves in a tough spot. They may make too much to qualify for healthcare assistance while they don’t make enough to afford the costs of insurance through the marketplace. If that’s the case for you then you may be able to benefit from CHIP. This program can provide affordable health coverage for children until they are 19 years old.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This program gives monthly payments to eligible adults or children with a qualifying condition. The amount of these monthly payments varies but the most amount that an individual can get is up to $794.