A lot of people are struggling to get affordable housing. That is why so many turn to housing assistance. However, navigating the world of housing assistance can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with financial hardship. Luckily, there are some programs that you can consider that can help people get more affordable housing expenses.
Assistance Programs to Help
There are a variety of assistance options that you can choose from at a local, state, and federal level! Some popular assistance opportunities include:
- Public Housing
- Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Mixed-Income Housing
- Local/State Options
Public housing is a type of federally subsidized rental property. This means that the government funds this program (hence the term federally subsidized). Specifically, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds it but it is run by local public housing authorities (PHAs). These rental properties usually come in the form of either an apartment complex which is the most common), a cluster of private homes, or a series of duplexes. If you are interested in being a recipient of public housing, you must meet the following conditions:
- Meet your area’s financial qualifications.
- Pass a background check (with references).
- Be a U.S. citizen or have an eligible immigration status.
Since this is a popular program you can expect to see long waitlists before you are able to actually receive the assistance. That is why you should apply as soon as you can! These applications are free and if approved you can get your name on the waitlist.
Housing Choice Voucher Program
Also referred to as Section 8, this program can provide eligible tenants vouchers that can go towards the costs of housing. Your local PHA manages this program and is the one that determines eligibility and provides the vouchers. Voucher amounts are based on factors like income level, family size, etc. This program also has long waitlists so it is recommended that you apply as soon as you can. These applications are also free (like the ones mentioned above). Once approved you will need to find eligible section 8 properties that not only accept housing vouchers as a form of payment but also pass safety guidelines from the PHA.
Instead of federally subsidized housing you can also check out privately owned subsidized housing. This form of housing is also referred to as mixed-income housing and usually doesn’t have long waitlists! Instead of the PHA managing properties, private companies or landlords own the property. They are offered tax incentives to provide discounted units to eligible tenants.
The amount that the tenant will be responsible for depends on the complex. Some landlords choose a flat reduced rate while others base it on the income of the tenant. If you want to review mixed-income housing opportunities in your area you can get in touch with a local real estate agent or see if your local PHA has information.
You will want to specifically see if there are housing assistance opportunities in your area. You may be in for a pleasant surprise when you find that there is more support than you thought! A good place to start locally is with surrounding charities. Oftentimes they can provide funds or other support to help with housing. You then should see if there are state programs that are available to people in your area. Your local PHA may be able to provide information but online searches can help too!
How to Apply for Assistance
Each state has their own criteria and application submission guidelines. It will vary based on the area you are in! Your local PHA is a great source to help you with application processes. Not only that, but they can help you get information you need especially if you have questions or concerns. Even though the application for each program varies you can plan to get information ready like:
- Social security numbers for all members of the household.
- Three months worth of recent pay stubs.
- Your state-issued I.D. or driver’s license.
- A copy of your lease agreement.
- Recent bank statements.
Alternatives to Housing Assistance
Sometimes housing assistance may not be available to help your situation, especially if you are in an area with limited resources. That is why if you can’t get this support, you may need to turn to alternatives to improve your housing situation. You can:
- Get a Roommate
- Move Somewhere Cheaper
- Get Another Source of Income
Get a Roommate
Roommates are a sure fire way to make housing more affordable. Let’s say your current rent is $1,200 a month for a one bedroom apartment. If you live in the same area but in a 2 bedroom apartment for $1,700 but split the rent with someone else then each party would only be responsible for $850. This takes off hundreds of dollars compared to what you would normally pay in rent! Finding a roommate can be difficult but as long as you properly screen them to make sure they are safe and responsible with their money then it should be a good alternative for a little while.
Move Somewhere Cheaper
If you are currently living in a place outside of your means and have the option to move then you should. Different areas can be significantly cheaper while still providing the same level of safety. If you have the opportunity to move even further away from the area you are in then another state may be a better and more affordable option for your lifestyle.
Get Another Source of Income
If you can’t find a way to reduce your housing costs then you can try to make more money to overcome the obstacle! There are plenty of job opportunities that you can do part-time, or you can even consider work from home options. Taking the time to find ways to make more money can make a world of difference when it comes time to handle your housing costs.
There are plenty of housing assistance opportunities that you can consider that may be able to provide support. However, if you are unable to find options available then you may want to consider alternatives that can still make housing more affordable!