Available Housing Assistance Opportunities

A house with available housing assistance opportunities on top of a pile of money.
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The amount of housing you can afford is dependent on multiple factors. First, you should consider your income. It’s also important to understand what other expenses you deal with. If you’re having a hard time making rent and keeping up with other necessary costs, you may be cost-burdened. If that rings true for you, bringing your housing costs down can get you into a more comfortable spot!

Different Ways to Lower Your Housing Expenses

The average cost of rent in America has greatly increased over the last several years and unfortunately this isn’t expected to change. The  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recommends that housing costs don’t exceed 30% of a household’s income. Recently it’s become increasingly difficult to keep housing costs under a reasonable amount. Many households are finding themselves struggling to make rent each month. It’s more important than ever that people understand what types of solutions they can rely on to get their housing costs down.

Seek Federal Housing Assistance

If you find that you’re spending the majority of your income on rent each month, you likely have little left over for other basic needs. If you make a low income, you may struggle to afford other expenses like healthcare, transportation, and food. The first solution you can consider in order to get your housing costs down is to seek government assistance. There are various programs that provide help in different ways. Housing assistance programs you can consider include the following:

  • Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program
  • Public Housing Assistance
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program

Affording all life’s major expenses, including housing costs, can be especially difficult for elderly individuals. This program benefits seniors that are 62 years or older and make a low income. Many seniors may be on a fixed income, leaving them little room to keep up with growing rent rates. This is why the Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program is important!

Public Housing Assistance

Low-income families and individuals can benefit from this housing assistance program. Public housing provides qualifying recipients with a rental unit to live in at an affordable rate. Although this is a federal program offered by the HUD, local public housing agencies (PHAs) administer the program. Therefore, if you’re looking to benefit from public housing, a good place to start is with your PHA! In order to benefit applicants, need to take the following criteria:

  • Contact your PHA to start the application process
  • Meet income requirements set by the PHA
  • Be a U.S. citizen or have an eligible immigration status
  • Pass a background check (likely complete with references)

When most people think of public housing, they think of apartment complexes. However, there are many types of public housing units! For example, there are clusters of single-family homes and duplex homes also available. Today there are 1.3 million households occupying public housing. Despite that, there are still many families in need. Unfortunately there are not enough affordable housing units available for everyone that needs them.

What are the disadvantages of public housing?

As stated above, there is both limited availability and high demand for affordable housing. Therefore, approved applicants usually need to wait for months to years before it’s their turn to move into an available unit. This is one of the disadvantages to public housing. In addition to that, recipients don’t get much freedom of choice regarding where they live. However, public housing can still be a valuable resource for those in need of housing assistance!

Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

Another housing assistance program provided by the HUD is the Housing Choice Voucher program. However, you might recognize this housing opportunity as Section 8. This program also provides rental assistance to eligible low-income families and individuals. Instead of providing a subsidized rental unit, Section 8 offers vouchers that cover housing costs in private rental units. Local PHAs are also responsible for administering these vouchers for qualifying recipients. In order to be eligible for a voucher, you need to:

  • Reach out to your local PHA to begin the application process
  • Meet the income requirements set by your local PHA
  • Find an approved rental property to live in
  • Get your application approved by the landlord of the property

Unfortunately, any form of housing assistance is in high demand! Therefore, long waiting lists usually affect applicants of Section 8. The benefit to Section 8 when compared to public housing, is that you get more freedom to choose where to live. However, one disadvantage to keep in mind is that not all landlords are willing to accept Section 8 recipients. It is essential that the property owner takes vouchers as payment in order for you to live there and benefit from Section 8.

Alternative Solutions to Make Housing More Affordable

Government assistance opportunities aren’t always the best option for everyone. Both public housing and Section 8 have long waiting lists, with some eligible applicants waiting for years. Furthermore, the eligibility criteria can be strict, leaving people in need searching for other options. The good news is that there are alternative ways to get your housing costs down without needing to utilize any government programs.

Get a Roommate

One option you have is to split your housing costs with another person. This is a good solution for you if you have an extra bedroom in your house that you can spare. By finding someone to share the responsibility of bills with each month, you could cut your expenses down!

Move to an Area Where Average Rent Rates are Cheaper

If there aren’t any friends or family members you see yourself moving in with, you can consider moving to an area where the cost of rent isn’t as high. For example, the average rent in Seattle, Washington is $3,614. Whereas, the average cost of rent in Tucson, Arizona is $1,032. It’s understandable if you aren’t able to move across the country to find lower rent rates. However, you may be able to find a neighboring city near you that costs less on average.

Summing it Up

As we have gone over in this article, there are a few federal housing assistance options for you to consider! If you don’t make a lot of income, you may be struggling in this current housing market. Programs such as public housing and Section 8 can provide much needed assistance with the cost of rent. However, these programs don’t come without any disadvantages. Both programs can have long wait lists, with some eligible applicants waiting months or years before they can benefit. With that being said, seeking help from a government program may not be the best option for everyone. In that case, there are other solutions you can consider! Getting a roommate can help cut your expenses in half. In addition to that, moving to an area where the average rent prices are lower may also benefit you. Whichever solution you decide to go with, understanding your own budget is first and foremost!

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