Many Americans struggle to keep up with their housing costs. People can lack a steady income, not make enough money, have more bills than they can afford, and more. In fact, 75% of Americans are worried about losing their home. That number is based on data from before the pandemic which means that concern has likely gone up.
The pandemic was hard for a lot of people which is why there was the National Eviction Moratorium which was one of the most helpful housing protections for Americans. Sadly, this program ended on July 31st, 2021. However, just because one protection ended doesn’t mean all of them did! There are still emergency housing assistance programs and other housing opportunities in place that can help.
Housing Assistance Options
While a national level of protection is gone, there are still other housing opportunities that can help. First, let’s start with the Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP). This program will be different depending on which state offers it and it is not available in all states. Similar to how some states provided a fourth round of stimulus payments, some states chose to offer extra housing assistance.
A majority of these emergency housing assistance programs aim to be an alternative to temporary housing but can also help through other means like rent/utility assistance. This program may also be able to cover:
- Late fees
- Internet service for your home
- Moving expenses
- Rental-related fees
- Housing counseling
- Case management
- Legal representation
- Housing stability services
The type of coverage you will be able to receive varies so you will want to contact your local public housing authority (PHA).
Other Housing Assistance Opportunities
Besides emergency housing assistance programs, you may be able to benefit from other housing assistance options like:
- Public Housing
- Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Supportive Housing for the Elderly
- Mixed Income Housing
Generally, public housing is offered in the form of an apartment complex but can also be a cluster of private houses or even a series of duplex homes. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are the ones that fund this housing opportunity but your local public housing authority (PHA) would be the ones to manage it. This is a very popular option and 1.2 million households currently live in public housing!
Eligibility criteria will vary based on your location which is why it’s important to get in touch with your local PHA for more information. Sadly because this program is so popular there are generally long waitlists that people will be placed on after their application is approved if they are found eligible.
Housing Choice Voucher Program
This program is more commonly referred to as Section 8 and is another popular housing assistance option for those dealing with financial hardship. Approved recipients of this program will receive a housing voucher that is worth a set amount to go towards housing costs. The amount of the voucher varies based on information like income, family, and more. These vouchers can only be used only at properties that accept them as a form of payment (not every property accepts them!).
Just like public housing this is a popular assistance option so there will generally be long waitlists and eligibility criteria will vary based on location. Your local PHA will help you with this program as well!
Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program
Elderly individuals may find themselves having an especially hard time dealing with housing costs. That is why HUD offers supportive housing for the elderly program. This program helps qualifying seniors that are at least 62 years old get housing assistance they need.
Mixed Income Housing
While mixed income housing may not be a standard housing assistance program offered by the government, it is still a helpful way that people can get housing support. Mixed income properties are privately owned and offer units at a reduced rate. They do this thanks to tax incentives offered by the government!
If a property wants to receive their tax incentive they will need to offer units at a reduced rate. How these units are priced varies based on the property so you will need to confirm the rent amount. Some offer a set reduced rate, others base it off your income, etc. It just depends on the property!
What if You Don’t Qualify for Assistance?
If you are unable to qualify for assistance you still aren’t out of luck! There are other ways that people try to make their housing costs more affordable. They can try to:
- Get a Roommate
If you are unable to get housing assistance through a program then you may need to take the problem into your own hands! You can try to downsize if possible. Let’s take a look at an example! If you currently live in a 1 bedroom apartment at a complex that has amenities for $1,500 then you may be able to save if you downsize. Instead of living at a complex that has amenities, you can choose one that has none. Instead of a 1 bedroom apartment, you can choose to live in a studio. These changes could potentially bring your rent down from $1,500 to $1,000. That’s a total savings of $500!
You may also be able to save if you relocate. For example, the average cost for an apartment in Manhattan, New York is $4,140. However, if you choose to move to Albuquerque, NM then the average cost for an apartment is just $1,161. This difference can save you thousands of dollars! If you have no reason to live in a certain area, then you may benefit from moving.
Get a Roommate
Another way that people try to reduce their housing costs is by getting a roommate. For example, a one bedroom apartment may cost $1,200 but a two bedroom would cost $1,500. You could split the rent with a roommate and end up paying $750 for your rent compared to $1,200! That’s hundreds of dollars in savings. However, you will want to make sure you verify your roommate with a background check and credit check since you will be living together.
There may be more support for housing than you realize. A popular option is emergency housing assistance programs that may be available in your state. However, there are other options that may be able to help like public housing, section 8 housing, supportive housing for the elderly, and mixed income housing.
If you can’t qualify for any of these options then there are still ways that you may be able to reduce your housing costs. You could consider downsizing, relocating, or even getting a roommate. Either way, there may be more hope for your situation than you realize. To begin your affordable housing journey you will want to start at your local PHA!