Finding a home in your price range that also suits your family’s needs can be extremely difficult. If you have a low income, it may be nearly impossible to do so in the current housing market. For this reason, you may consider applying for housing assistance.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides many forms of assistance to aid different groups in need of affordable accommodations. These housing programs offer both homeownership and rental opportunities to families in need. In addition, the HUD department works with other organizations, such as Veterans Affairs (VA), to provide qualifying applicants with a wide variety of housing options.
Learn About the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
If you are looking to rent an affordable home in the private market, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program may be the solution for you. The HCV program allows you to select your own low-income home that is large enough to accommodate your family.
If the home you choose is approved, your Public Housing Agency (PHA) will submit a voucher each month to your landlord. The voucher will cover a portion of the utilities and rent payment, and you must cover the remaining cost.
If you decide to request Section 8 assistance, you must abide by the program’s rules and regulations. For instance, you are required to report any changes in circumstances while you are on the waitlist. This includes increases or decreases in income, pregnancy and more.
You may submit an application for Section 8 online, in person or by mail depending on your PHA’s submission guidelines. Keep in mind that many Section 8 waitlists across the country are currently closed due to high demand. If the waitlist in your county is closed but you are in an emergency situation, you may be able to apply for assistance in another county.
If you reach the top of a Section 8 waitlist, you may begin your search for a new home. Many PHAs manage their own online housing lists. Note that you are allowed to live in the following types of homes, as long as they are rentals:
- Single-family house
If the home you select is approved by an inspector and your PHA, you must agree to sign a lease for a minimum of one year. You must then uphold your end of the lease and pay your portion of the rent.
Learn About the Section 8 Homeownership Program
The HCV homeownership program may be more suited to your housing goals if you want to become a homeowner. Under this program, you may use your vouchers to buy a new home and make mortgage payments. Vouchers may be used to cover other qualifying expenses as well, including:
- Property taxes.
- Homeowner’s insurance.
- Certain forms of home maintenance.
You may qualify for Section 8 homeownership if you have already been approved for the general HCV program. Keep in mind that your PHA has the authority to accept or decline a request for the homeownership vouchers.
Note: The HCV homeownership program is not available at every PHA. Be sure to contact your local housing authority if you are interested in homeownership opportunities on a low income.
Learn About Rental Opportunities for Seniors
Finding an affordable apartment as a senior may be challenging, especially if you’re worried about scams. Fortunately, the HUD department sponsors two rental programs for seniors: the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and Section 202.
Both of these programs are designed to entice developers and investors into funding low-income housing for seniors. For instance, a developer who chooses to build a low-income property that caters to seniors will receive an LIHTC.
Under Section 202, which is also known as Supportive Housing for the Elderly, non-profit sponsors will receive interest-free capital advances if they create affordable housing for seniors.
Section 202 is slightly different from the LIHTC program because it caters to very low-income seniors. In addition, seniors who live in Section 202 housing may receive extra assistance, such as cooking, cleaning and transportation.
Under both programs, affordable rentals for seniors have a variety of benefits, including:
- A community of other retired tenants.
- Extracurricular activities for residents.
- Buildings equipped with elevators and handicap-accessible units.
You may apply for an apartment at an LIHTC property through the property owner or leasing office. For Section 202 housing, however, you are required to submit an application through the federal Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), which is posted every year.
Learn About Rental Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Non-elderly disabled (NED) vouchers and Section 811 are two different housing opportunities for people with disabilities. Both programs are funded by the HUD department.
If you qualify for NED vouchers, which are part of the HCV program, you may apply for housing that is mainly designed for seniors. This will give you equal opportunities to find a home that suits your needs.
Note: NED vouchers may be used to fund private listings, as well as housing in health care institutions. For example, qualified applicants who live in nursing homes can apply their vouchers to nursing-home expenses.
The Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, which is otherwise known as Section 811, may help you if you have a disability and cannot afford a handicap-accessible apartment. This form of assistance will allow you to maintain your independence and still receive the help you need.
There are two types of housing funded by Section 811:
- Projects funded by capital advances
- Projects funded by Project Rental Assistance
If you’re applying for assistance through a project funded by capital advances, your income must not exceed 50 percent of the median income in your area. Meanwhile, when applying for assistance through an project funded by Project Rental Assistance, your income must not exceed 30 percent of the median.
As a result, you may qualify for disability housing at some properties, and not at others. For this reason, you may want to apply for housing at multiple locations.
Learn About Rental and Homeownership Opportunities for Veterans
If you’re a veteran and struggle to maintain housing stability, you ought to apply for the HUD and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. Also known as HUD-VASH, this program can help you find affordable housing and receive medical assistance through the VA.
Qualified veterans may select a home through the private market, as long as it meets health and safety standards. Once they sign a lease, their vouchers will cover a portion of the rent.
If you would prefer to buy a home, you may apply for VA home loan. These loans are backed by the VA, which allows you to negotiate a better mortgage with a participating lender.
If you’re a veteran and have a disability, you may also apply for a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant. Either type of grant can be used to modify your home so that it is handicap-accessible.