With the economy struggling due to COVID-19 and Americans still waiting for those long overdue second stimulus checks, affordable housing has become essential for an even larger segment of the population, as more people slip into the category of those who are struggling financially. If you’re in that situation, a comforting thought is that you are not alone and there are solutions to your predicament. Working hard to provide housing to low-income groups, the US government has a lot of solutions for those struggling to find a home that they can afford. We’ll talk a little bit about this subject, so you can find the affordable home of your dreams.
Federal Rent Assistance Programs:
There are a variety of different initiatives out there that you could be eligible for, that cater to people in various situations. Here’s what the federal government has left on the table:
- Public Housing: Local government affiliated public housing authorities own these more affordable properties, which are operated and funded with the assistance of the federal government.
- Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly: These types of properties are owned by non-profit organizations and they get fiscal support given to tenants in the form of project-based assistance and federal capital grants. Mainly targeting senior citizens, these types of properties are equipped with everything needed to take proper care of them.
- Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs): This falls under the Section 8 Assistance program that gives housing vouchers to those who are struggling financially and meet certain income criteria.
- Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance: These are subsidies that are used for funding the rent for certain Section 8 properties.
- Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities: This is government-aided housing provided for those who are legally registering as having either physical or mental disabilities.
Start with Your Local PHA
A one-thousand-mile journey starts with a single step, but you’ll be happy to know that this journey will certainly be more tiresome than walking a thousand miles. The first step is to locate and research your local public housing authority (or local PHA) because they are the ones who can determine if you could be eligible for the various types of affordable housing programs. As the policies of providing affordable housing may vary from state to state and different localities have various standards or methods determining those who qualify, it’s important that you acquaint yourself with all the relevant information.
Since time is money and you want to commit to investing your time in a benefit that would actually pay, then it’s best that before embarking on this journey to seek affordable housing benefits, you do a little of your own self-assessment. The below is the general criteria most of those involved in the assessment process would use to determine whether you are eligible or not:
- Citizenship/Immigration Status: You are not entitled to receive any affordable housing benefits if you are an undocumented and/or illegal immigrant in the United States. Benefits are exclusively for US citizens or legitimate noncitizens of the country (such as green card holders, asylum seekers, etc.)
- Income: It goes without saying that income is a big factor, which can determine whether a candidate can get benefits or not. The key rule is the less you earn and the more dependents you have, the more likely you will get benefits since you are the most in need.
- Family Status: This part of the assessment is about how many members are in one household, how many dependents there are, how many senior citizens there are, and how many family members are physically or mentally disabled. Income is considered in relation to family size such that a full picture is created for the assessor to examine.
- Eviction Record: If you have previous evictions that are due to the drug-related charges, that is definitely something will haunt you in the assessment process. Eviction due to financial problems is understandable, but if it’s due to a criminal charge, there will be extra scrutiny and it could potentially disqualify you. Ensure you have a clean criminal record.
Federal Funding for Affordable Housing vs. Other Alternatives
While it’s true that the federal assistance for those seeking affordable housing is designed to bring as much benefit as possible, the unfortunate reality is that only a modest 25% of those who really need it really get it. As a matter of fact, many households end up searching for other alternatives and thankfully there is a wide variety of programs that they can look into, some of which are initiatives taken up by state governments and others by non-profit organizations. If you have not been accepted for federal housing benefits, the first thing you can do is to look for more solutions using the National Low-Income Housing Coalition website as a reference. You can also turn to the more well-known non-profit organizations taking part in assisting those in need of affordable housing, such as Habitat for Humanity.
Most importantly, do not be intimidated by the task of trying to seek affordable housing. Completing this process takes time, diligence, patience, and organization and these are the key traits that can get you through this challenge. Other than that, it’s important to get many other things in order such as your criminal record (if you have any), your credit rating, and make sure you get a stable job to improve your chances of qualifying for a home. Though you are usually assessed based on need, it’s important to begin making long-term plans of stabilizing your financial situation so that you would no longer need affordable housing in the future.